Rays could have MLB's top rotation in '23

August 30th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Adam Berry's Rays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

After watching make his regular-season debut on April 29, 2021, then-A’s manager Bob Melvin couldn’t have offered much higher praise as he told reporters, “It feels like Glasnow all over again.” 

The two starters were part of the same rotation for a few weeks early last season, but McClanahan really came into his own after was injured in mid-June and took another massive leap this year. So after the rehabbing Glasnow received a two-year, $30.35 million extension on Friday, you just can’t help but think beyond the possibility of Glasnow’s late-season return to ponder what Tampa Bay’s starting staff could look like in 2023 and ’24.  

“It's a game-changer. It's really exciting,” McClanahan said. “Glas is a top-five pitcher in the game, top-three, top-two. His stuff's unbelievable. His work ethic is unbelievable. This is just awesome for him.” 

For the Rays, too, when they think about a rotation fronted by Glasnow and McClanahan. 

“You're arguably talking about what could be the best right- and left-handed starting pitcher in baseball,” pitching coach Kyle Snyder said. “That is their ceiling.”

They have some similarities. Both throw fastballs in the upper 90s with the ability to touch triple digits. Both make hitters look silly with nasty sliders and curveballs. Both developed into starters regularly capable of pitching deep into games. McClanahan might have a fuller arsenal, a four-pitch mix rounded out by his changeup, while the 6-foot-8, long-limbed Glasnow presents a physical challenge like few other pitchers in the game. 

“You've got a right- and left-hander, both sitting 100 [mph] when they're feeling good that day with elite stuff. That's what it is,” starter Jeffrey Springs said. “Both guys are really, really good, and they can win a lot of ballgames -- and match up well -- against anybody. It'll be fun to watch, for sure.” 

Next season, the Rays should be able to line them up one after the other. And behind them, assuming good health, could be some combination of Drew Rasmussen (2.77 ERA this season), Springs (2.76 ERA), Shane Baz, Luis Patiño, Yonny Chirinos and current top prospect Taj Bradley. 

“You can never have enough top pitching,” GM Peter Bendix said. “And if you can put together a rotation with multiple aces, I mean, it's really enticing. There's very few teams across baseball that ever get the chance to do that.” 

But with Glasnow locked up through 2024 and no longer a potential trade candidate this offseason, the Rays should have that chance. 

You could argue they’ll enter next year with two of the top five or so frontrunners to win the American League Cy Young Award. And can you imagine having to withstand that one-two punch four times in a seven-game postseason series? Yeah, there’s a lot to dream on. 

“Shane is pitching at a Cy Young level this season, and Glas was doing that the year before. You look at the other guys and what they’re doing in addition, it’s certainly exciting to think about,” president of baseball operations Erik Neander said. “To get that type of high-end talent together, to keep it together, to have it all sync up and win games -- it’s easier to assemble a bunch of talent over a decade; it’s a lot harder to time it all up. 

“This is something that certainly makes that a little more achievable over the next couple years, and that’s a big reason we did it.”