The Tampa Bay Rays are currently two games below. 500, fourth place in the American League East, but only three games out of the wild card. However, history indicates that the Rays must make a few adjustments if they want to play some October baseball.
Currently, the Tampa Bay Rays have the highest strikeout rate in the league, striking out 26.2% of the time. Since the postseason opened up to 10 teams back in 2012, only four teams (out of 50) have made the playoffs with a strikeout rate above 22%.
Those teams combined for a record of 10-14, with no World Series appearances. The only team to make it past the division series were the 2015 Chicago Cubs. However, they were easily swept in the championship series by the New York Mets.
No team has made the playoffs with a strikeout rate above 25% since 2012. The past often indicates what will happen in the future, so the Rays will need to cut down on the strikeouts if they want to make something of this season.
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With the trade deadline approaching, the Rays could really use a high-contact hitter. Corey Dickerson is the only Ray with an average above .265 with at least 50 plate appearances, and the Rays have an overall team batting average of .246.
While the absurd amount of home runs we have hit this year slightly offsets the strikeouts, this combination has not equated to playoff success.
But, the pitching has been lights out. The Rays starters have the seventh best ERA in baseball as a unit, and the bullpen is starting to come around. The Rays’ relievers are responsible for 13 losses, tied for the second most in the league, but the bullpen has hovered around league average after a horrendous start to the season, and with Brad Boxberger due back in the middle of June, the pitching will only get better.
While it is only June, the Rays have to buckle down. They are only playing one team with a winning record for the rest of the month, and they need to win as many of these games as possible before finishing out the season with a tougher schedule.
If the Rays can finish the month around five games over .500, I like our chances to get a wild card spot, if we can stay healthy of course.