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Yonny Chirinos out for the season; Rays promote LHP Josh Fleming

Chirinos will require Tommy John surgery

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Rays received terrible news on starter Yonny Chirinos, who has battled multiple arm injuries this season, as he has been recommended for Tommy John surgery.

Chirinos will not be expected to return to action until 2022.

Chirinos becomes the second Rays starting pitcher and fourth pitcher overall to be sidelined for the 2020 season, joining Brendan McKay (shoulder), Andrew Kittredge (elbow), and Colin Poche (elbow).

In a corresponding move, the Rays are promoting LHP Josh Fleming to the rotation, a surprising move and an aggressive one for a prospect highly thought of within the Rays system. Here’s what we wrote about Fleming in the off-season:

Fleming has been described in Rays circles as Ryan Yarbrough with a better fastball. He unlocked his stuff in Double-A after a mid-season shift from the third base side to the first base side of the pitching rubber, where he then pitched consecutive complete games for the Montgomery Biscuits.

Fleming was promoted from that level with 127.2 IP and a 3.31 ERA, and was given four appearances in Triple-A to up his season total to nearly 148.2 innings. He struck out 16 but allowed 32 baserunners in that brief appearance.

FanGraphs projects a bullpen move for Fleming, and does not yet see a major league floor, a rare divergence from TB’s internal evaluations for that site.

A promotion to the majors will be a solid test to see how his stuff plays against right handed hitters.

Tampa Bay Rays Summer Workouts Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Fleming will slot into the Rays rotation for Sunday’s day game, which is the third of this season’s final four against the Blue Jays. His addition projects the starting rotation like this:

Ryan Yarbrough
Charlie Morton*
Josh Fleming
Blake Snell
Tyler Glasnow

*On the Injured List

Saturday was the expected promotion day for Charlie Morton, but the Rays have said his recovery has been slightly slower than anticipated and with the team’s strong performance generally there’s no need to rush him back.

For now Saturday is likely to be a bullpen game, but the outlook will depend on how the arms are taxed tonight.

As for the man known to be on the way: The promotion of Fleming could be a one-off for the Rays to see what they have in the prospect while there is wiggle room on the roster, but if he performs could more permanently push current options Trevor Richards and/or Anthony Banda into long relief roles.