Inbox: When will we see McKay in the Majors?

Beat reporter Juan Toribio answers questions from Rays fans

May 14th, 2019

What's the chance we see Wander or McKay in the bigs this season? Just maybe McKay could provide some magic in relief like Price did in '08.

-- @SteinBlaine

With the way Brendan McKay is pitching in Double-A this season, there’s definitely a chance the Rays call up the two-way player in order to add his lefty arm to the bullpen. The Rays’ No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has been dominating on the mound in Double-A Montgomery, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.82 ERA in six starts with the Biscuits.

A lot of what the Rays do in September will depend on the team’s chances at making the postseason, and if the team needs a left-hander, McKay certainly appears to be an option.

While McKay could make his way to the big leagues this season, don’t expect the same for 18-year-old phenom and the Rays’ No. 1 prospect, Wander Franco. As good as Franco has been this season, slashing .278/.369/.481 with three home runs in Class A Bowling Green, he’s still a year or two away from being a realistic candidate to make his big league debut.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Rays do in order to fill out Tyler Glasnow’s spot in the rotation, but Ryan Yarbrough is definitely going to be a big option for Tampa Bay over the next month and a half. Yarbrough was sent down to Triple-A after a tough start that saw his ERA balloon to 8.10, but Rays manager Kevin Cash has continuously talked about how important Yarbrough is going to be for the team during the season.

Yarbrough has been stretched out as a starter in Durham, and has fared well, posting a 1.80 ERA in three appearances with the Bulls. With Glasnow out, Yarbrough, Jalen Beeks, Yonny Chirinos and Jake Faria are all going to be options for the Rays moving forward.

Now that Tyler Glasnow and Brent Honeywell are out for a while, do you see the Rays acquiring a starting pitcher like Madison Bumgarner?

_-- @ha_gaaabe_

The Rays are always looking for ways to upgrade their roster, but it’ll be unlikely for Tampa Bay to make a sudden move and throw a pair of good prospects to the Giants for a pitcher like Madison Bumgarner. That’s not to say that the Rays won’t be on the phone with the Giants about the left-hander, especially closer to the Trade Deadline, but that won’t be dictated because of Glasnow’s recent injury. If Glasnow’s injury takes longer than expected and the Rays remain in contention, then the chances of them going after an impact pitcher like that drastically improves. If not, they’re still going to look to add, but only if the deal makes sense, not out of desperation.

Brent Honeywell, the team’s top pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has been shut down from throwing after suffering a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and still appears to be a ways away from a return. As for Jose De Leon, he’s scheduled to continue his rehab with a couple of appearances at Triple-A Durham and could be ready to return in early June. Now, it remains to be seen if the Rays immediately activate De Leon to the active roster or if they option him to Durham. Either way, as long as De Leon is healthy, he’ll make a contribution with the big league team this season.

What's Daniel Robertson's long-term outlook? I know they like his versatility but he's struggled at the plate. How will he be affected once Duffy and Wendle return?

_-- @Eli_Marger_

This is a fair question about Daniel Robertson, and he’ll be the first one to tell you he’s frustrated with his slow start. But it’s also important to remember that Robertson has been a key player for the Rays this season and the team expects him to eventually get hot at the plate.

Robertson has been hitting third against left-handed pitching, mostly because the Rays don’t have a ton of right-handed options in their lineup right now.

There’s no doubt that the returns of Matt Duffy and Joey Wendle would affect Robertson, especially if he doesn’t get it going at the plate. The same would apply for Willy Adames. But if the Rays have learned anything over the last week with the losses of both catchers and Glasnow, it’s that they can’t have too many good options on the roster.

Carlos Gomez did a good job inside the clubhouse last season and the same atmosphere has carried over to this season. Guillermo Heredia, Ji-Man Choi, Blake Snell, Glasnow and Adames are definitely some of the guys that immediately come to mind.

They could, but it seems unlikely because the team expects to get Michael Perez and Mike Zunino back relatively quickly. They’re hoping the trio of Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony Bemboom and Nick Ciuffo can do just enough to help the Rays until they get their top two catchers back from injury.

If Zunino and Perez suffer some sort of setback during their rehab process, then it’s possible that the Rays explore the trade market.

As good as Jake Cronenworth has been in Triple-A, slashing .361/.451/.516 with two home runs in 122 at-bats this season, I just don’t see a path to the big league level for the shortstop. We’ve talked about the struggles of Adames and Robertson, but they’re still ahead of Cronenworth. This is similar to what Kean Wong has gone through over the last two seasons, and his path seems to be blocked, especially when the Rays get fully healthy in the infield.