After being in the hunt for the Wild Card over the first four months, the Tampa Bay Rays recent slide has been disappointing. Nonetheless, the 2017 campaign has been a success.
For most of the first four months of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays looked like a playoff team. Not only were they a surprising contender for the Wild Card, but the Rays were right there to battle the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East during their struggles. The Rays were even buyers at the trade deadline, bringing in pieces like Lucas Duda and Adeiny Hechavarria to help solidify their lineup.
However, this month has not gone according to plan. The Rays offense went silent, with a historically inept run. Jacob Faria went on the disabled list, and began to struggle prior to his injury. Jake Odorizzi has been awful in his four outings this month. Not surprisingly, the Rays have fallen under .500, with the postseason slipping further out of reach each day.
Given the start to the season, it is easy to regard this season as a disappointment if the Rays fail to make the playoffs. Instead, the Rays 2017 campaign can be considered a success, given the modest expectations at the start of the year.
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Faria, when healthy, has proven to be a viable part of the Rays rotation going forward. Even with his struggles in August, he managed to strike out 19 batters in his 17.1 innings, showing the stuff that made him seem like another ace when he debuted.
Offensively, both Kevin Kiermaier and Wilson Ramos have gotten on track. After being sidelined with his hip injury, Kiermaier has a robust .314/.351/.657 batting line, hitting three homers. Ramos’ bat has begun to wake up as well, as he is hitting at a .295/.348/.410 clip after a rough July. Signed to a two year deal, Ramos may be able to be the offensive weapon the Rays were hoping for during the 2018 season.
One also has to wonder what would have happened if the Rays bullpen matched their current performance. It took until August for the relief corps to solidify, giving the Rays the bullpen they needed. If those relievers had been in place at the start of the season, 2017 may well have been the start of the Rays next stretch of contention.
Even if the Tampa Bay Rays do not make the postseason, there are positives this this year. It certainly bodes well for their future, and their chances for next season.