Wednesday night’s loss to the Boston Red Sox marked the 40% point for the Rays season. Typically, most baseball experts feel that the first two months of the season are to be spent examining the team to determine strengths and weaknesses, then the next two months should be spent attempting to figure out a way to solidify the roster to make a payoff push.
For the Rays, that has generally meant a need to upgrade the offense. Yet, heading into Thursday’s slate of games, they rank fourth in the American League in runs scored and batting average, third in on base percentage, and are tied for fifth in home runs. Plus, the eventual addition of Wil Myers on offense could only help a lineup that has been surprisingly solid this season. Even the combination of Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina have surpassed expectations thus far this season, ranking sixth in the league in batting average.
Equally surprising have been the Rays struggles with their pitching staff this season. As a team, the Rays rank ninth in the American League with a 4.26 ERA. Despite struggling at the start of the year, the bullpen has been better as of late, with Fernando Rodney and Jake McGee pitching closer to how they performed last season. Joel Peralta has been his steady self in the eighth inning, and Jamey Wright has been a nice addition to the relief corps. It is possible that the Rays could look to improve their depth, but if Cesar Ramos and Alex Torres continue their solid effort, then the bullpen could be in good shape for the stretch run.
Although the Rays will be getting an upgrade to the rotation once David Price returns, it may be that they could look to get a lower priced rental to fill out the back end of the staff. Alex Cobb and Matt Moore have been excellent for most of the season, but both have struggled as of late. Jeremy Hellickson, like Price, has not pitched well for most of the season. Roberto Hernandez and Chris Archer have been inconsistent at the end of the rotation, and either one could lose their spot once Price returns. Yet, whichever pitcher remains in the rotation has not been a given upon the mound either.
Typically, at this time of year, trade talks swirling around the Rays tend to involve trying to find another bat for the offense. This time, those trade rumors may involve something completely different–a pitcher to fill out the staff.