On Saturday, Tampa Bay Rays two-way prospect Brendan McKay made his big-league debut. Though McKay has seen action as a DH this season (and as a first baseman in the past), his first appearance was as a left-handed starter against the Texas Rangers. If his initial outing is any indication, he’s here to stay — at least as a pitcher.
McKay retired the first 16 batters he saw before giving up a single to Danny Santana and later a walk to Shin-Shoo Choo. Those were the only baserunners he permitted over his six innings of work. He struck out three and generated 11 swinging strikes on 81 pitches.
McKay did most of his work with a three-pitch mix: a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a cutter, and a curveball. He did mix in a handful of changeups. True to his polished reputation, he located his pitches and sequenced like someone who was several years into his career. He also showed off his defensive chops and wherewithal with this grab:
It’s unclear when or if McKay will debut as a hitter. Most talent evaluators are higher on him as a pitcher, believing he’s already a mid-rotation starter with multiple average-to-plus offerings. McKay’s bat has lagged, and in 150 plate appearances in the upper minors this season he’s posted a .644 OPS. The Rays have indicated this was more than a spot start, and that McKay may be around for good.
That’s a welcome sight for their playoff positioning. Tampa Bay entered the day tied with Texas for the top wild-card spot.