Rays lose key power hitter for 4-6 weeks due to kneecap fracture

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe has been diagnosed with a right kneecap fracture, manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). He suffered the injury in Thursday’s win over the Los Angeles Angels when he was hit by a Griffin Canning pitch.

It’s another tough development for Lowe, who is unfortunately no stranger to late-season injuries. He missed most of the second half in 2019 with a bone bruise in his right leg, although he was able to return for the playoffs. Lowe missed last year’s postseason with a recurring back issue. There’s now a good chance he’ll miss the playoffs again, with the estimated return timetable only leaving the possibility of a comeback late in a deep run.

Lowe is one of the game’s better offensive second basemen. The left-handed hitter has connected on 21 homers in 436 plate appearances, ranking eighth at the position. He’s walking at a strong 11.5 percent clip and owns a .231/.328/.443 line overall. Despite a fairly high strikeout rate and middling batting average, he’s an above-average hitter. That’s particularly true against right-handed pitching, whom Lowe has hit at a .241/.335/.478 clip.

Tampa Bay has been living with next to nothing offensively out of the shortstop position lately. The group led by Taylor Walls is hitting .188/.282/.304 this month. They’ll now also have to patch things together at the keystone. Isaac Paredes moved over there tonight against the Blue Jays with Curtis Mead stepping in at third base. The Rays have rookie Osleivis Basabe in a utility role, while they just promoted top prospect Junior Caminero (who didn’t get into the game tonight).

Lowe’s injury occurred yesterday, but the Rays had a pair of departures from tonight’s contest. Randy Arozarena is day-to-day after leaving with right quad tightness. They could be in line for another extended absence from reliever Jason Adam, who came out in the ninth inning after feeling side tightness.

Adam just returned after missing three weeks with a left oblique strain. He told Topkin that while this discomfort is in a different area of the oblique, it’s more painful than the prior strain. He’s likely headed back to the 15-day injured list. The 32-year-old righty has had another strong season out of Cash’s bullpen, pitching to a 2.67 ERA with a 31.5 percent strikeout rate in 54 frames.

Tampa Bay is two games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, pending the result of Baltimore’s game in Cleveland. The Rays have seven games left on the regular-season schedule. They’ll host the Toronto Blue Jays for two more, play a two-game set in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, then wrap up the year with three against the Jays at the Rogers Centre.

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