ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Rays will turn to a pair of rookies to start the first two games of the American League Division Series, which gets underway Thursday at Tropicana Field.
The Rays will host the winner of Tuesday night’s wild-card game between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Prior to Tuesday afternoon’s workout at the Trop, Rays manager Kevin Cash said that Shane McClanahan will start Game 1 and Shane Baz will get the ball for Game 2.
McClanahan, who made his MLB debut in the ALDS against the Yankees last year, was summoned from the Rays’ alternate training site in Port Charlotte at the end of April and has since been a pillar in the rotation.
In 25 starts, the 24-year-old lefthander went 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA. He was 8-5 with a 3.01 in his last 17 starts.
“I think Shane McClanahan has certainly earned it with his overall body of work,” said Cash.
Cash and his staff felt better about the rookies pitching the first two games at home as opposed to the environment at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.
“For me, personally, I think going with a young pitcher in a hometown environment is probably a little bit better than (in the Bronx or Boston.)”
Baz has only 13 ⅓ innings of big-league experience. He made his debut on September 20 against visiting Toronto and was impressive in his first two outings, allowing only five hits and one walk in 10 ⅔ innings.
The 22-year-old right-hander struggled in the first inning against the Yankees on Sunday, though he allowed only one run on an Anthony Rizzo homer. Baz was pulled after 2 ⅔ innings having allowed just the one run.
In deciding to go with Baz, Cash cited how he bounced back against the Yankees and his ability to throw strikes.
Cash also noted that it is “highly likely” Drew Rasmussen would start Game 3 on the road, though circumstances from the first two games could alter that plan.
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