Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell is set to undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body in his left elbow, the team announced on Thursday. Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young winner, is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left throwing arm this weekend, The Athletic's Josh Tolentino reports.
P Blake Snell has been placed on the 10-day IL, retroactive to Monday, July 22, due to loose bodies in his left elbow.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 25, 2019
Snell is anticipated to be ready to return to the club in September. #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/1jti6SGf6c
Snell will miss at least one month and the procedure could sideline him longer. But the 26-year-old and the team are hopeful he will pitch again this season. This will be the left-hander's second time on the injured list this season following a bizarre toe injury in April.
After Snell's Cy Young season, the Rays signed him to a five-year, $50 million extension in the offseason. The deal came after Snell and the Rays first were unable to agree to a salary for the 2019 season, and the team eventually renewed him just slightly above the league minimum. Snell called the decision "disappointing."
In 20 starts so far, Snell is 6-7 with a 4.28 ERA and a 3.40 FIP. Over his last four starts, Snell appeared to be rounding into form as he recorded a 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 31:6 strikeout to walk ratio.
The Rays could call up Brendan McKay from Triple-A Durham for Snell's replacement, or continue using their opener strategy. As Tolentino notes, it's becoming clear that the Rays, like many other contenders, are in need of starting pitcher at the trade deadline.
How will Snell's elbow issue impact fantasy baseball players? CBS Sports expert Chris Towers broke it down here, with options on how to replace the Rays' ace.
Snell spoke with reporters on Thursday, including the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, and said that he first felt the issue in his elbow three to four starts ago. Snell confirmed that the timeline for his return is September, but is unsure of how responsive he'll be to the surgery.
Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi underwent a similar surgery to remove loose bodies in his elbow at the beginning of this season and he was supposed to return after a month or two, but Eovaldi suffered a setback during his rehab and didn't return to the mound until nearly three months after the surgery. That's not to say Snell's recovery will look the same, it's merely to point out that this likely won't be a straight forward rehab process. He has youth on his side, but for him to return in four to six weeks would be the best-case scenario.
The loss of Snell is a tough pill to swallow for Tampa as the Rays have also been without Tyler Glasnow -- who was in the middle of a breakout campaign -- since mid-May. The Rays in the thick of the postseason race. They entered Thursday one game behind the A's for the second AL Wild Card spot.