Jesse Crain will throw around 20 pitches in a Florida Instructional League game on Thursday and will decide the next step in the process will be determined afterward.
Crain was on the disabled list with a sore shoulder when the Rays acquired him on July 29th but had hoped to have him back much sooner. The rehab process has not gone smoothly and as the season is dwindling down to a handful of games his usefulness is becoming less potent everyday.
This is not to suggest that he would not be a welcomed addition, even if only for the final 10 games or so, if he were to return. Prior to being injured he appeared in 38 games for the Chicago White Sox posting a 0.74 ERA (3ER/36.2 IP) and had a strike out rate of 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings and a walk rate of 2.7 walks per nine innings.
The wild card is a crazy race with six teams separated by 2.5 games (4 in the loss column) with the Rays and Rangers currently holding the top spot with the Cleveland Indians 0.5 game back, the Baltimore Orioles 1 game back, and the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees 2.5 games back.
At this point the margin between appearing in the post-season or making early tee-times is razor thin. It’s so thin that a few appearances by Jesse Crain could make all the difference.
Especially with the recent troubles of Joel Peralta who may be battling fatigue and currently leads the league in appearances with 73. In the month of September he has been very ineffective appearing in 7 games allowing 8R/6ER in 6.1 innings. He has struggled with ihs control walking 7 batters (one intentional).
It would not be the first time that a veteran reliever helped a team make the post season with razor thin margins. On September 13, 1980 reliever Sparky Lyle was dealt from the Texas Rangers to the Philadelphia Phillies. At the time of the trade the Phillies trailed the Montreal Expos by a single game with 20 games left and there was no wild card to fall back on.
Lyle made his first appearance on September 14th and over the final 20 games he appeared in 10 games delivering 14 innings of quality work posting an ERA of 1.93 (3ER/14IP). The Phillies eventually caught the Expos with 4 games to go and held on to win the division by a single game.
The Phillies went on to win the 1980 World Series but Sparky Lyle would not play a role as he was not eligible for post-season play since he was acquired after the August 31st trade deadline.
The Rays hope that Jesse Crain can impact their bullpen in a positive way but unlike Sparky Lyle the Rays will be able to carry him on their playoff roster.