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Rays reliever Nick Anderson has a partial ligament tear in his right elbow and will be out of action, likely all the way past the All-Star break, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Anderson had suffered a drop in velocity in his spring training outing on Wednesday and Topkin reports he was also feeling some discomfort. 

The report indicates Anderson hasn't been recommended to have surgery, so he'll be shut down for eight weeks before working to build his arm strength back up. 

With opening day just a week away for the defending American League champions, this is a tough blow. Anderson was one of their lockdown late-inning relievers during their pennant run last season. In 19 appearances during the abbreviated 2020 season, he had a 0.55 ERA and 0.49 WHIP with 26 strikeouts and three walks in 16 1/3 innings. 

It's possible to illustrate the Rays' ability to absorb the loss here by using the playoffs. They got to Game 6 of the World Series with Anderson not having his good stuff. In postseason play, he had a 5.52 ERA and allowed runs in eight of his 10 outings, taking the loss in the decisive Game 6. 

The remaining big back-end arms for the Rays heading to the regular season now are Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo. Fairbanks had a 2.70 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings in 2020. Castillo had a 1.66 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. He was the most effective of the three in the playoffs. 

Holdovers Ryan Thompson, Ryan Sherriff, Chaz Roe and lefty Cody Reed along with newcomer Collin McHugh could also figure into the late-inning puzzle for the Rays.