After the loss yesterday to Atlanta, the Rays found themselves in a position they havent been in all year… TIED for the leagues best record. Although this isnt necessarily the worst position they’re in, its definitely not a good one.
The Yankees and Red Sox have closed in on the Rays, with the Boston(40-28) only two games back and New York(41-25) dead even with Tampa(41-25). The Rays have been on a decline the past month and its due to inconsistency of hitting and pitching. The Sox are playing very good baseball this past month and with the Yankees being the Yankees, they arent going anywhere either.
If the Rays are planning on contending all year for the division and a spot in the playoffs, they need to do one simple thing. Hit the damn ball. They rank 8th in the American League in team average(.259), while the Red Sox(.278) and Yanks(.277) are 2nd and 3rd respectively. The Sox and Yanks are also hitting more homeruns than the Rays by a nice margin. Homeruns aren’t going to win all the games for you, but when one player by the name of Evan Longoria, is the only consistent long ball hitter on the team, this becomes a non- threatening line up. You can say Pena is a threat, but if it wasn’t for him hitting 7 dingers in 6 games, you wouldnt think that. Or at least I wouldn’t.
The Pitching has also been on the decline as of late, but they still have the best ERA in the league (3.50). Wade Davis has been slacking this season, James Shields started off strong but has lost his change up. They are the only pitchers on the staff with a losing record. Jeff Neimann and David Price have ERA’s under 3.00 and have been carrying the load for the Rays. Price should be on the all-star team this year with 10 wins and only 2 losses(most in the AL in wns). Neimann is (6-1) and has showed the most command of the whole staff. After starting the year (4-1) in April, Matt Garza went (1-3) in May and so far in June he’s (2-0). Garza has the nastiest pitches on staff and should end up a 15- game winner this season. I would also consider Garza as a possible all-star by the way he was dominant at the beginning of the season.
The most consistent Ray of the year has been Rafael Soriano. Hes got a 1.52 ERA and opposing batters are hitting .181. Also, recording 16 out of 16 saves. Its nice to have someone we can trust at the closers role and has gained trust by the starting pitchers to close out the game.