The Tampa Bay Rays entered Sunday with the American League’s best record, at 30-16, which is a half-game better than the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics, each of whom is 29-16. If the Rays are going to remain in the driver’s seat over the season’s final two weeks, then it appears they’ll have to do so without starting first baseman Ji-Man Choi.

That’s because Choi, who strained his hamstring during Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, is expected to miss the rest of the regular season and could be sidelined into the playoffs, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. In 42 games this season, he’d hit .230/.331/.410 (105 OPS+) with three home runs and another 13 doubles.

During Choi’s absence, the Rays are expected to fill their first-base void by platooning Nate Lowe with Michael Brosseau.

Lowe had been an individual of note heading into the August 31 trade deadline. Multiple league sources told CBS Sports that the Rays had been shopping him around. We anticipated as much heading into the deadline, and we included him in our deadline primer. Here’s what we wrote:

Lowe (blocked) hit .263/.325/.454 in the 50 games last season that served as his big-league introduction. It wasn’t enough; not to elevate him over Ji-Man Choi, and not to convince the Rays that Yoshi Tsutsugo was an unnecessary addition. Lowe has the means, with his plate discipline and his raw strength, to be someone’s first baseman or DH. What he doesn’t have is an opportunity, or a ton of time left to wait for one. He turned 25 in July, and it tends to get late early for players reliant upon old-player skills. The Rays need to find a spot for him, in their lineup or in a trade, before they risk wasting his time and his value for no gosh darn reason.

Choi is the Rays’ third starting position player to land on the shelf, joining third baseman Yandy Diaz and catcher Mike Zunino. The Rays are also without a number of pitchers, including Yonny Chirinos, Jose Alvarado, Jalen Beeks, Oliver Drake, and Chaz Roe.

The Rays will finish their series with the Red Sox on Sunday before welcoming the Washington Nationals to town on Tuesday. The Rays then have series with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies to close out the regular season. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here