The Rays are in a good spot when McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen are on the mound, as the team’s 12-4 record in their combined 16 starts this season would attest. In the last two starts for each pitcher, they have combined to allow all of two earned runs 24 2/3 innings.

McClanahan, Rasmussen A Formidable Duo In Rays Rotation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Following Tuesday night’s win over Detroit at Tropicana Field, Shane McClanahan noted that he battled through his start without being up to the standard he desired.

The fact the 25-year-old lefthander threw seven innings and allowed only a single run in picking up the win while not at his sharpest underscores, well, just how sharp he has been.

“When you don’t have your best stuff, you still have to go out there and fill the strike zone, compete, try to make quality pitches and keep them off balance,” he said. “Obviously, there is still stuff to improve on, but I think we are in a good spot going forward.”

The Rays are in a good spot when McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen are on the mound, as the team’s 12-4 record in their combined 16 starts this season would attest. In the last two starts for each pitcher, they have combined to allow all of two earned runs 24 2/3 innings.
Shane McClanahan, Credit: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are in a good spot when McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen are on the mound, as the team’s 12-4 record in their combined 16 starts this season would attest. In the last two starts for each pitcher, they have combined to allow all of two earned runs 24 2/3 innings.

With Tuesday’s win, McClanahan, a former USF standout, improved to 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his last five starts. In his last two starts, against the Angels and Tigers, he allowed only seven hits and one run while walking one and fanning 18 in 14 innings of work.

Relying more on an effective changeup has a made a difference for McClanahan. While he threw it last season, the pitch has become a key component in an arsenal that also includes a four-seam fastball that consistently registers 95-97 mph and touches 100 mph every now and then.

“I think it is trusting it more this year and getting more comfortable with it,” he said. “It’s like a maturation process, I guess you could call it, in using it.”

Through Wednesday’s games, McClanahan’s 65 strikeouts were second in the majors and his 2.33 ERA was tied with Rasmussen for fifth in the American League.

“He has been really special for us,” said manager Kevin Cash. “I don’t really know how to describe it other than that he continues to find the consistency and the rhythm to manage his workload.”

Rasmussen, who follows McClanahan in the rotation, has been on a similar roll. The 26-year-old righthander blanked the Tigers over five innings Wednesday afternoon. It was a laborious effort at times, with 23 pitches in the first inning and 26 in the fifth. The key, though, was that he did not walk a single batter while improving to 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his last five starts.

“Our game plan is pretty simple: fill up (the zone) early and use your weapons to get outs late,” he said following a May 13 outing against visiting Toronto. “I have strung together a few good starts this year, and a couple of good ones to end last year, so it is hard not to be confident right now.”

Rasmussen, acquired along with J.P. Feyereisen from Milwaukee last May in a deal that sent Willy Adames to the Brewers, has been a regular in the rotation since last August. He endured Tommy John surgery twice in his career and is still getting stretched out as a starter. To that extent, he has thrown at least 80 pitches in four of his last five outings, including a career-high 88 at Seattle on May 7.

“Things have worked out really well since (the trade),” he said Wednesday, when the Rays improved to 14-4 in his 18 starts since being acquired. “I couldn’t be happier to be here and the opportunity I have been given is a blessing.”

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