Rays Ace To Return From IL, Will Start Thursday

The Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff is getting its ace back. The team has announced that Shane McClanahan has returned from the IL in the minimum 15 days and is set to start a crucial game immediately.

The left-hander will start the 5th and final game of the Rays' critical series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday. The Jays lead the series 2-1 going into Wednesday night's 4th game of the elongated set. With that, Toronto has moved a half-game ahead of Tampa (and Seattle) for the first Wild Card spot. The team that wins that seeding gets to host the 2nd WC team for all three games of the best-two-of-out-three series. 

The 25-year-old McClanahan would be having a Cy Young season were it not for the ridiculous year that 39-year-old Justin Verlander has had after two years away from the mound. In fact, by one advanced metric, he is second to the Houston Astros' ageless wonder in all of baseball.

McClanahan's "weighted on-base average" is .234, second to Verlander's .227.

On the more standard stats, the Rays' ace is 11-5 with a 2.64 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP, with a dominating 182:30 K/BB ratio in 147.1 innings. 

McClanahan was pulled from his Aug. 30th start minutes before game-time with a shoulder impingement. There was no concern of a serious injury at the time, and his quick return hopefully confirms that. 

Photos: Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports, Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports