The Rays have done well to be sitting at 43-39 at this point in the year, all things considered. Their pitching staff has struggled throughout the season, David Price has been injured since May 15th, and Fernando Rodney has not been close to what he was last year. Meanwhile, the Rays have had the second most difficult schedule thus far, as their opponents have been playing at a .518 clip heading into today’s slate of games.
The Rays have also played 44 of their 82 games thus far against AL East opponents, the division which is easily the toughest in baseball right now. Those 44 games also marks the most of any team in terms of divisional matchups. Yet, despite the difficult schedule and the multitude of games against the East, the Rays find themselves six games out in the East, and three games out of the Wild Card at this point in the season.
However, from now until the All-Star Break, their schedule gets easier. The Rays have seven games against the woeful Astros, three against the White Sox and four games against the Twins. The combined record for those three teams is 98-141, for a .410 winning percentage. If the Rays are to make a move to position themselves for the second half, it seems that this would be the time.
Meanwhile, as the Rays are about to enter an easier stretch of their schedule, things seem to be looking up. Price is going to be back from his triceps injury on Tuesday, and has stated that he feels better now than he did at any point this season. Jeremy Hellickson has now reeled off three consecutive solid starts, lowering his ERA from 5.67 to 4.90 in that span. The bullpen has solidified with the addition of Alex Torres and Jake McGee has refound his magic from last year. Offensively, Evan Longoria may not require a stint on the disabled list, and stated that his foot feels far better than it had on Saturday.
The Rays have a chance to set themselves up nicely for a post All-Star Break run. Facing off against three of the weaker teams in the American League may be the perfect catalyst for them to go on another seemingly patented second half run.