Acquired at the July 30 Trade Deadline from the Indians, Luplow was expected to help the Rays with an issue that has plagued them all season: hitting against lefties.
Manager Kevin Cash joked that Luplow’s Rays debut would be a soft landing, batting leadoff against Orioles southpaw John Means. Luplow started well, hitting the first pitch of Friday's game for a double into left field.
“I know he's excited for the opportunity,” said Cash. “Jordan’s a guy that has a track record from dating back to, I think, 2017 or '18 that he has just really handled left-handed pitching well. As a club, we've talked about it a lot. We have not done what we think we're capable of against lefties. So adding his bat and that presence in our lineup should help us.”
Cash is right. Since his debut in 2017, Luplow was batting .251/.371/.556 against lefties compared to .195/.282/.353 against righties.
The Rays were looking forward to watching Arozarena crush some balls against the Orioles. He’s 17-for-37 with seven homers -- of the 16 he has hit this season -- and 16 RBIs this season against Baltimore. However, lefty-mashing Luplow will have the opportunity to make an impact early with his new club.
The left-hander felt some discomfort in his left shoulder at the beginning of the Minor League season, likely a result of some scar tissue remaining from shoulder surgery last August. McKay had been working his way back, last tossing 1 2/3 innings last Saturday for the Florida Complex League Rays.
“We're excited for Brendan,” said Cash. “He's had a pretty long road here with the injury. When all this happened and went down, I don't think any of us thought that it was going to take quite this amount of time. With these injuries, procedures and surgeries, some setbacks happen, and I think he's had his fair share. Hopefully Brendan in his career, he's passed that and he can start moving forward.
"This is a big step. I think Erik [Neander, VP of baseball operations and GM], the front office and certainly player development are excited to see him now pitch in a uniform for Montgomery. Then we'll see where that takes him, but it's a big step in the right direction.”
Shane McClanahan grew up in Baltimore and went to games at Camden Yards. The lefty now gets the opportunity to pitch there on Saturday.
“I think it's cool,” McClanahan said with a smile. “I was actually thinking about this on the way here, thinking, ‘Oh, I need to call my dad and mom and tell them how cool it is to be able to pitch in the stadium tomorrow that I came to growing up.' I'm really excited. Just another opportunity, though, can't put too much into it.”
McClanahan used to sit in left field, according to his mom, watching the Orioles do their thing. He wasn’t the kid that tried to get autographs, but he said that getting Cal Ripken Jr.'s would have been cool..
McClanahan has a big opportunity after the Rays were unable to add to their starting rotation at the Trade Deadline. Saturday will be just another chance for him to prove himself, this time with a little bit of a back story.