Shane McClanahan

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Shane McClanahan

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Biographical Information[edit]

Shane McClanahan made his major league debut pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays against the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the Division Series on October 5, 2020. He was the fourth player of the modern era to make his debut in a postseason game, following Mark Kiger, Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Kirilloff; Kiriloff had done so only a few days earlier. It came in mop-up duty, after the Yankees had already scored 5 runs in the top of the 9th to extend their lead to 9-3, and he was tasked to get the final out with a runner on first base, which he managed to do but only after loading the bases. He had not pitched competitively that season, given that there were no minor league games and he was at the Rays' alternate training site. He had also been on the roster for the Wild Card Series, but his services had not been needed, given his team's quick two-game sweep against the Toronto Blue Jays. He made three more appearances during the postseason, including pitching one scoreless inning in Tampa Bay's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

He was a supplemental 1st round pick, 31st overall, by the Rays in the 2018 amateur draft, out of the University of South Florida. The pick had been obtained by the Rays as compensation for the Baltimore Orioles signing free agent pitcher Alex Cobb. He had missed all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery before getting on a college mound for the first time. He pitched seven scoreless innings between two teams in 2018 before logging a full season as a starting pitcher in 2019. That year, he made 22 starts in 24 appearances, playing for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Charlotte Stone Crabs and Montgomery Biscuits, with a record of 11-6, 3.36 and 154 strikeouts in 120 2/3 innings.

He did not make the Rays' opening day roster in 2021. Given his success as a starter in his only complete minor league season, the Rays were looking to stretch him out to be available to pitch in that role in the future. However, it did not take him long to make it to the big team as he was called up to make a start against the Oakland Athletics on April 29th, his first appearance in a regular season major league game. He gave up 2 runs in 4 innings that day, then stayed in the Rays' starting rotation for the remainder of the season, going 10-6, 3.43 in 25 starts and logging 123 1/3 innings. He had an excellent K/W ratio of 141/37 and was probably the team's best starter down the stretch. In the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, he had an excellent start in Game 1 on October 7th, pitching 5 scoreless innings to earn the win in a 5-0 combined shutout. However, the Sox proved to be a tougher opponent than expected, and the Rays tried some unusual strategies in an attempt to counter them, which led to their not starting McClanahan in Game 4 on August 11th, instead giving the ball to Collin McHugh, normally a long reliever. It worked to some extent as McHgh threw two scoreless innings, but when McClanahan came in in an unfamiliar role in the 3rd, he was completely out of sorts putting two batters on while recording the first two outs before giving up a three-run homer to Rafael Devers. He followed that with a single to Xander Bogaerts, a double to Alex Verdugo and a single to J.D. Martinez before being replaced by J.T. Chargois. By then, Boston had built a 5-0 lead, and while the Rays eventually climbed out of the hole, they won the game, 6-5, with a run in the bottom of the 9th.

In 2022, he had an outstanding season, being the team's Opening Day starter and going 12-8, 2.54 in 28 starts for the Rays. He recorded 194 strikeouts in 166 1/3 innings, while giving up just 116 hits. He was the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game, but missed a few starts in the second half, which explains why he finished only 6th in the vote for the Cy Young Award when he was the favorite in the early going. The Rays wanted him to be rested for the postseason, but they made a quick exit. He started Game 1 of the Wild Card Series against the Cleveland Guardians on October 7th and pitched well, giving up just two runs in seven innings, but he was charged with a 2-1 loss as Tampa's bats could only muster one run, which turned out to be the only one they would score in the entire two-game series. In 2023, he once again had a great first half after being the Opening day starter for the second straight year, leading to a second nomination to the All-Star team. This time he skipped the game due to health concerns, as he had not pitched since making a start on June 30th after experiencing back tightness. He returned on July 17th, but wasn't as sharp in his four starts after the All-Star break, seeing his ERA rise from 2.53 to 3.29. He returned to the injured list following a start in which he gave up 5 runs to the New York Yankees in four innings on August 2nd. On August 15th, the Rays announced that he would need to undergo Tommy John surgery for a second time, wiping out the remainder of that season and likely all of the next one as well. His final numbers for the year gave him a record of 11-2 with the aforementioned 3.29 ERA in 115 innings, with 121 strikeouts. News of the surgery was the second huge blow to the Rays in a few days, as on August 13th SS Wander Franco had been placed on the restricted list as MLB was investigating allegations of an improper relationship with a minor.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time AL All-Star (2022 & 2023)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Adam Berry and Sonja Chen: "McClanahan to undergo Tommy John, expected to miss '24",, August 15, 2023. [1]

Related Sites[edit]