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Rays pitching staff takes another blow as Drew Rasmussen hits 60-day IL due to flexor strain

The most dominant team in baseball has lost another key pitcher.

The Tampa Bay Rays placed starter Drew Rasmussen on the 60-day injured list due to a flexor strain Friday, sidelining the right-hander for two months and possibly more.

Per ESPN, Rasmussen told reporters that he is hoping to avoid a third Tommy John surgery, which would not only end his season but also potentially take him out for all of 2024. Rasmussen underwent the procedures in March 2016 and August 2017.

He was apparently feeling fine enough to throw seven shutout innings against the New York Yankees in an 8-2 win Thursday, but he reportedly said he noticed his velocity was down and his pitches had a different shape in the seventh inning. Manager Kevin Cash pulled him at 76 pitches.

He described the issue as a nerve problem, via ESPN:

"Just more nerve sensitivity," Rasmussen said. "Not any severe pain. The nerve flared up, and as a precaution got imaging done, and the strain popped up there."

Given that the Rays immediately placed him on the 60-day IL rather than the 15-day IL, they might be more than a little concerned.

The 30-9 Rays still have the best record in baseball, with the most runs scored and the fewest runs allowed, and Rasmussen has definitely been a part of that. The 27-year-old holds a 2.62 ERA, a 1.052 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings across eight starts.

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen delivers to the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 25, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Like many other Rays, Drew Rasmussen has been great this season. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Losing Rasmussen for an extended amount of time is especially brutal for the Rays because of whom they already had on the IL. Jeffrey Springs, who looked to be on his way to a breakout season, is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and closer Pete Fairbanks is still sidelined due to the always ominous forearm inflammation. Tyler Glasnow hasn't pitched an inning after starting the season on the IL due to oblique soreness.