The unpredictability of the baseball season continues to hit from all angles, and MLB fans got the worst of it on Sunday when disturbing allegations against Tampa Bay Rays star Wander Franco surfaced.
The New York Yankees have been chasing the Rays all season long, and now Tampa's campaign could be seriously compromised with Franco away from the team what could be an indefinite amount of time.
Franco, per a viral social media post, is alleged to have engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a minor, but Major League Baseball is currently investigating and working to verify the information, according to Jeff Passan. Nothing is confirmed, but Franco could be placed on the restricted list or administrative leave depending upon what may be uncovered.
The Rays released a statement claiming they were taking the situation seriously and are working with MLB to find out more, but they initially declined to comment when asked about Franco not traveling with the team to the west coast for their six-game road trip against the Giants and Angels. As of Monday afternoon, Franco and the team have reportedly mutually decided he will spend a stint on the restricted list, a likely unpaid proposition.
Disturbing Wander Franco allegations emerge, Franco placed on restricted list
The Rays have already witnessed a considerable slip since the beginning of July. Entering the month, they were 57-28 with a comfortable lead in the AL East. They're now 71-49 and three games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the division. Injuries have hurt them, but the expected regressions for a number of their offensive players arrived, while their pitching staff lost signficant contributors along the way in Tyler Glasnow, Shane McClanahan, and Jeffrey Springs.
Currently, the Rays sit atop the AL Wild Card standings with a 6.5-game cushion. Houston's right on their tail and the Blue Jays are five games back. The Mariners (6.5), Red Sox (8.0) and Yankees (10) are the next closest.
Tampa has three games remaining against New York; five against Boston; four against Seattle; four against Baltimore; and six against Toronto -- all of which have direct implications on the division or WC.
The Rays have coasted thanks to their improbable start, but the hits have kept on coming since the beginning of July. Franco's allegations are the latest and by far the most troubling of any development in MLB this season. The league has approached the joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy with extreme caution in recent years, so don't expect Franco's situation to be resolved anytime soon.