When looking at the Rays heading into the season, the biggest question mark appeared to be in regards to how well they would hit. The defense appeared to be better, and even though they had lost James Shields, the pitching staff still appeared to be a strength of the team. Despite the potential issues on offense, the Rays were almost universally considered to be a playoff contender, with legitimate aspirations of making a run at the World Series.
Early on, the pitching staff and the offense have struggled. While it is expected that the Rays pitching staff will right themselves and get back to their typical level near the top of the American League, there may be cause for concern with the offense. Presently, the Rays are last in the league in batting average, slugging, on base percentage and runs scored. They are last in baseball in hits, six behind the Marlins. With this lack of support, the Rays pitching has needed to be virtually perfect in order to win games, as evidenced by their 1-9 record when allowing a run.
Pitching and defense can only get a team so far – eventually, there needs to be some offensive production throughout the lineup. While players like Yunel Escobar and Matt Joyce in particular are in the midst of a horrific slump to start the season, the offense needs a spark. With that being the case, the obvious solution may be to call up Wil Myers, and see what he can do. Although Myers has yet to hit a home run in Durham, he has posted a respectable .297/.417/.351 batting line, with nine walks. Given the Rays struggles thus far, it would appear as though it may be the perfect time to bring Myers.
Furthering this thought is how Joe Maddon seems confident that baseball acumen alone would be the deciding factor on when Myers gets brought up to the majors. And yet, despite all the struggles on offense and Myers having hit the point where he would be under team control until 2019, it may not be the right time to bring him to Tampa.
Once Myers arrives in Tampa Bay, the pressure upon him to live up to his billing as one of the top prospects in baseball will likely be fairly intense. Bringing him up in the midst of a virtually team-wide offensive slump would likely lead people to expect him to be the savior of the offense, and that his presence would ignite the slumbering bats. This would likely put even more pressure upon Myers to perform well. If he struggled, even though Tampa is not the intense media market that a Boston or a New York would be, his ability to live up to the hype may come into question.
Conversely, if the offense is performing and scoring runs, then it may be the best time to bring Myers up. At that point, he can just slide into the lineup, without any pressure on him to carry the Rays offense. He would be able to acclimate himself to the majors, and if he struggles initially, it would likely not be as problematic as it would have been otherwise.
Despite the struggles of the Rays offense, it is likely to be a bit longer until Wil Myers is brought up to Tampa Bay. In the long run, that may be the best move for both Myers and the Rays all the way around.