Rays Holding Breath Over Latest McClanahan Injury

Shane McClanahan has been one of the top pitchers in the American League this season; his presence on the mound is as close to a sure win for the Tampa Bay Rays as it gets. All of this makes the timing of his September injury troubles all the more problematic as the playoffs approach. 

McClanahan can be seen shaking out his left arm and left side after a pitch, and was forced out of Tuesday's night's start in the 5th inning.

It's being called "left neck tightness." It was just his second start back off the IL after missing 15 days with a left shoulder impingement. You don't have to go to medical school to know that the neck and the shoulder are very closely related. The Rays have to be holding their breath that this won't be an ongoing issue. 

Tampa went into Tuesday night neck and neck (no pun intended) with the Seattle Mariners for the 2nd and 3rd Wild Card spots; the Toronto Blue Jays came in with a slim 1.5 game lead as the first Wild Card seed. 

The Rays went on to lose Tuesday's game 5-0 to the Houston Astros, and will face the Blue Jays beginning Thursday in a huge 4-game series at the Trop. But will McClanahan be available to pitch? 

The 25-year-old All-Star left-hander came into Tuesday's game with a 12-5 record, a 2.13 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and a 187:31 K/BB ratio.

Photos: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports,