Hey Tampa Bay Rays Fans. For entertainment purposes, if you’re ever bored, go to Twitter and search on #RaysTank. It’s fun to review the reactions after the moves that the Rays made leading up to this season.
We’ve lost our winningest pitcher. Our HR leader. The face of our franchise. And now our team MVP. #RaysTank indeed.
You’ve heard it said a few times recently, I’m guessing. I heard it during Sunday’s televised game. At the beginning of the season, fans wondered if this Tampa Bay Rays team could win 60 games, or even 50. And there they sit, third place and two games above .500. There next win with be 50.
In retrospect, the team that the Rays have put together is pretty good. Always competitive. Hindsight is awesome!
Look at all the things that went right
The Rays were able to shed Opening Day Denard Span and Brad Miller from the payroll fairly early on. Face it, they were playing positions of strength anyway. Span got competition early on with the signing of Carlos Gomez. And, perhaps most importantly to this lineup, Miller has been replaced by top prospect Jake Bauers. I’d say this lineup is a far cry from baseball’s worst.
Of course, there are overachievers. CJ Cron’s home run total is probably slightly ahead of expectations. Daniel Robertson is having a very good season. Matt Duffy and Wilson Ramos are about where we should have expected if not slightly better. Along with this, Joey Wendle has been very good. Johnny Field injected energy at times before recently being sent down. Jesus Sucre remains a valuable second catcher. And, there’s been an evolving door for others to come and go and fill out this lineup.
And this is all said without even discussing the pitching. Blake Snell has been one of the AL’s best. He’s a good place to start. Or, open the conversation, if you prefer. Nathan Eovaldi has been better than expected coming off his second Tommy John surgery. And the swarm of arms filling in the gaps have been good. As a result, nobody could have expected the results that this staff has turned in during the first 96 games. Their team 3.71 ERA leaves them in eighth best in baseball at the break
If anything, the two biggest disappointments to the first half have to be Kevin Kiermaier and Chris Archer, believe it or not. Bad starts from these two should have supported every preseason tweet you read about these Rays. Both have spent time disabled and both are a far cry from their season averages. And these two would have been the players expected to carry them to any amount of wins at all.
Trade Deadline and Beyond
It’s anyone’s guess to what’s next. And, the upcoming trade deadline will be one to watch. Will Wilson Ramos’ hamstring heal enough to allow him to be traded? Indications are it will not, with him hitting the DL. Will a team take a chance on Nathon Eovaldi? What remains of Chris Archer’s value? Answers to these three questions will judge how the rest of the season goes. For me, It has already been successful, and it will be a stretch to expect them to finish above .500. I hope I’m wrong.