The Tampa Bay Rays are not dead yet. On June 18th, they were buried in the water with a 28-45 record, which was the worst in the American League.
Joe Maddon‘s bunch have been playing good baseball lately. It’s not so farfetched to think that they can crawl back into the division lead. Yes, they still sit in last place in the AL East — but if I remember correctly there’s a situation in the NL West where the San Francisco Giants had a 9 game lead and then a month later the Los Angeles Dodgers erased it and took over first place.
The Rays can go on that type of hot streak. Why? Because when you pitch well, you always have a chance.
The Rays rank 4th in the AL in ERA (3.83) and WHIP (1.26) and their ace David Price has pitched like his Cy Young self lately.
They have won 5 in a row, and 6 of their last 7 and they have gotten solid pitching from basically every starting pitcher during the stretch — from Price to Jake Odorizzi, and even from spot starter Alex Colome.
Chris Archer seems to have his form back (3.24 ERA) after a slow start. Alex Cobb Is slowly bouncing back after hitting a tough patch for a couple of starts.
Closer Grant Balfour was relieved of his closing duties — at least full-time. They have gone with a closer by committee lately, getting saves from Jake McGee (twice), Brad Boxberger, and even one from Balfour during this recent stretch. Joel Peralta attempted to get a save, but he ended up blowing his fourth of the season.
Their offense still hasn’t been setting the world on fire — they still only average 3.7 runs/game, but they have averaged 5 runs a game over the past seven games. Most of that did come in that 12-run outburst against the Baltimore Orioles but I don’t make up the numbers.
They are tied for 10th in the AL with the New York Yankees with just 71 HR’s and Evan Longoria leads the team with only 10.
Their only other power threat, Wil Myers, is not expected to be back until the end of the July (wrist).
They have a huge 4-game series coming up with the red hot Detroit Tigers — who have won 11 of 13, so this weekend will tell the Rays if they really have made progress or if they have been the product of a mediocre AL East.
Either way, if the Rays keep pitching like they are, they could go from having the worst record in the AL to finding themselves close to a playoff spot.
Never make the mistake of doubting Joe Maddon — with a 38-49 record, they are still very much alive.
– Khristian Peel