RHP Collin McHugh activated from 10-day IL, tagged as opener in Angels series finale

Right-handed pitcher Collin McHugh gets the call as an opener for Thursday's series finale against the Los Angeles Angels (Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Right-handed pitcher Collin McHugh officially returns to the mound Thursday night as manager Kevin Cash has tagged him as the opener in their series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.

McHugh was placed on the 10-day injured list on April 18 with a lower back strain after giving up eight runs and six earned runs in 5 ⅓ innings pitched this season, posting a 2.44 WHIP in the process.

Opponents have hit .480 off the righty this season and he’s struggled in a big way to start the 2021 season.

However on Tuesday, the Rays activated McHugh from the IL and placed righty Michael Wacha on the 10-day IL himself with right hamstring tightness, MLB.com Rays beat writer Adam Berry reported.

Rays fans have been waiting to see signs of 2018 out of McHugh, a year that saw him as one of the best relievers in baseball, posting a career-best 1.99 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 209 ERA+, 5.6 H/9, 4.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 11.7 K/9 rate.

There’s really no telling what version of McHugh the Rays will get post-IL return, especially considering his Spring Training outings weren’t stellar.

Let’s not dwell 100 percent on the negatives though because McHugh has shown his worth on the mound and he, like the rest of baseball, is getting re-adjusted to the 162-game schedule.

McHugh also sat out the 2020 season recovering from injury, so a healthy McHugh is one that will be a beneficial part to a Rays pitching staff that needs just about all the help it can get right now.