Injuries have been a major issue for the Tampa Bay Rays all season, and the team sustained another major one Monday.
Right-hander Jeff Niemann sustained a small fracture in the fibula, just above his ankle, after being hit by a batted ball in the first inning of what ended up a 7-1 Rays win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Niemann will be lost for at least four weeks and potentially several months.
"It's a tough break, literally," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's not easy to lose a pitcher of his caliber."
Making it worse, Niemann -- who is the fifth starter but has a larger role given the struggles of rookie Matt Moore -- was coming off his best start of the season.
"It's a big loss," Maddon said. "We're constantly having our depth tested. He's been steadily getting better with what he's been doing, and he's one of our guys when he gets on a roll, he gets on this really good roll. So the impact will be felt based on his replacement and the work that that person does."
The Rays hadn't decided yet which pitcher would take Niemann's spot. Wade Davis would be the obvious candidate, but he has done well in the bullpen. Alex Cobb and Chris Archer would be the top choices from Class AAA.
After Niemann exited following the first inning Monday, Cesar Ramos entered for three innings of one-run ball. He got credit for the win. Davis then threw two scoreless innings, and J.P. Howell, Burke Badenhop and Jake McGee threw a shutout inning apiece to close out the win.