If the Royals are going to break their 10-game losing streak to the Tampa Bay Rays, they'll have to do it against the defending Cy Young Award winner.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash announced Tuesday that Blake Snell would be activated from the 10-day injured list on Wednesday, the first day the ace is eligible to return.
"I think when we first heard the news, you watch him walk and there's a limp there," Cash told MLB.com. "The limp has kind of subsided. I'm not going to deny it, a broken toe is going to hurt for a while--probably a month. But we're confident with what he's doing and especially getting off the mound, it's not hindering his delivery. There's no mechanical changes that are needed."
Snell was placed on the 10-day IL with a fractured right fourth toe on April 16, retroactive to April 14. Snell suffered the injury at his home as he was trying to move a granite stand in his bathroom. The left-hander didn't realize that the stand had three parts and the pole fell on his toe as he was moving the large part of the stand.
The club originally said Snell (2-1, 2.16 ERA) would sit against the Royals, but after a bullpen session on Saturday and throwing a couple of pitches off the mound on Monday, Snell felt comfortable enough to start Wednesday's series finale. That means that Tampa Bay won't have to start an "opener" -- a reliever who starts the game and only works an inning or two -- for the third straight game. That practice has worked so far, but Cash is happy to have his ace back.
"It backs everybody up, and if Blake waits 15 days, then we're talking about shaving more pitches off his outing," Cash said. "So it was either pitch, or rehab. He's totally ready to pitch."
That's not the news that the Royals need right now, riding a five-game losing streak and owning the worst record in the majors at 7-17.
They'll turn to Jakob Junis (1-2, 6.26 ERA) to try to avoid the sweep against the Rays. He's 2-1 in three career games (two starts) against the Rays and carries a 2.19 ERA. He has one start in Tampa (Aug. 22 last year), giving up four runs (two earned) on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings and taking the loss in a 6-3 defeat.
He earned his first career win in Tampa, tossing a scoreless inning of relief in a 7-6 triumph on May 9, 2017.
The Royals need to figure out a way to score against the Rays pitching other than solo home runs. Prior to Adalberto Mondesi's dash from second base on a wild pitch in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game, the previous five runs all were scored via solo home runs, dating back to their final run Sunday against the Yankees.
"We just couldn't muster any offense against their pitchers," Kansas City manager Ned Yost told reporters after Tuesday's game. "We had some opportunities. We just couldn't get the big hit.
"It was exciting watching Mondi's speed for the second run. That was pretty amazing. We get to the point where you feel like we can get something going and we just kind of fizzle out."
--Field Level Media