Five Injured Rays Players That Will Make An Impact On Return

Hampered by the absence of many key players early in the MLB season, the Tampa Bay Rays have come out of the gate much slower than their impressive 2023 start. Currently sitting fourth in the AL East, a series of upcoming returns from injured Rays players could help the team climb up the standings in short order.

The returning players’ potential impact was displayed in the Rays’ 8-2 win against the Chicago White Sox on May 6. Rays outfielder Josh Lowe made his season debut during the game after suffering a right oblique strain during spring training. An integral part of the Rays’ 2023 success, Lowe went to 2-5 with a double and brought a familiar presence back to the club.

Five injured Rays Who Are Working to Rejoin the Club and Make an Impact.

Taj Bradley

Expected to be activated in the coming days or weeks, the young Rays pitcher was thrust into service last year thanks to injuries in the starting rotation and appeared in 23 games while making 21 starts. While his 5.59 ERA and 1.39 WHIP were not the most impressive, his 28 percent strikeout rate certainly did. With a season of work under his belt, the now-experienced Bradley is being relied on to step in and help a Rays pitching staff that is putting up a lackluster 4.52 team ERA, good for 24th in MLB.

Brandon Lowe

The Rays second baseman suffered a right oblique strain early in the season, another in a line of back injuries that has sidelined him in recent years. Making a rehab start for the Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls on May 7, Lowe is on track to rejoin the team soon and help boost a lineup that has struggled at times to score runs. His power at the plate should help increase the number of homers the Rays are putting up, currently only the 25th-best in the league at hitting the long ball.

Pete Fairbanks

After being shut down with a nerve issue earlier in the season, Fairbanks will also be starting a rehab stint in Durham on May 7. The Rays closer racked up 25 saves in 2023 and already had three in 2024 before ending up on the IL. With injuries to fellow relief pitchers Colin Poche and Chris Devenski, Fairbanks’ return would help strengthen a thin bullpen and allow Jason Adam and Garrett Cleavinger to return to their more familiar middle relief roles.

Colin Poche

Speaking of Poche, the left-handed relief pitcher has been out since late April with a mid-back issue. While Poche does not have the most electric pitches in the game, he’s able to work his way through an opposing lineup with minimal damage much of the time. While not a ringing endorsement at first glance, there isn’t much more that you would want out of a solid relief pitcher, which is exactly what Poche is and what the Rays are currently missing.

Shane Baz

Out since having Tommy John surgery in September 2022, Baz made a May 4 rehab start in Durham. Giving up three runs on three hits over three innings, it wasn’t the most spectacular of starts, but it’s a good sign for the 24-year-old after suffering multiple setbacks during his return. With a fastball that tops out in the high 90s, Baz is a big arm that could help the Rays in the not-too-far-future as long as he stays healthy and on track.

With so much talent sitting on the injured list, it’s easy to see why the Rays and their fans are looking forward to the return of many of these players. Expectations have dwindled a bit due to the early season struggles, but there is plenty of baseball yet to be played.

Main Image:  Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

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