Tampa Bay Rays: Finding a glimmer of hope in 4-game skid mark
By Seth Carter
After a 4-1 start to the season, the Tampa Bay Rays have dropped four consecutive contests. We take a look at the stats.
When the Tampa Bay Rays split the four-game set with the Atlanta Braves, there was no need to hit the panic button after they lost the final two in Atlanta. Now, in a shortened season, the Rays have just dropped two very important games to Baltimore and wasted two valuable starts by Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell.
Let’s take a look at some areas of concern for the Rays.
Tampa Bay Rays hitting below .200
We understand that a hitter will have a bad stretch every now and then, but this is getting weird.
Here’s what CF Kevin Kiermaier (who is hitting .185) had to say about the team’s offensive struggles.
"“Our pitchers have done a great job, but we have struggled with the bats and trying to get momentum going. Timely hitting hasn’t been there. It’s frustrating, but that’s what happens throughout the course of the season.”"
Here are important Rays’ players that are currently hitting below .200.
- Yandy Diaz (.154)
- Ji-Man Choi (.182)
- Hunter Renfroe (.172)
- Kevin Kiermaier (.185)
- Manuel Margot (.111)
- Mike Zunino (.100)
It’s worth noting that Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is hitting right at .200 on the season.
Despite all of the struggling batters, the Rays are still sixth in all of baseball in runs scored. Granted, only 12 teams have played as many games as the Rays. The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs have outscored the Rays in one less game so far. But overall, they haven’t been bad.
Kiermaier has had a lot of bad luck and some pretty good at-bats. Renfroe has shown serious power. Tsutsugo’s approach looks good and he’s driving in runs. Yandy is putting the ball in play and taking a ton of walks. I think these guys will be fine.
It’s also a comforting notion to keep in mind that the best hitter, Austin Meadows, has yet to arrive…But he’s coming.
The Tampa Bay Rays Pitching
Surprisingly, the pitching has been closer to average than elite thus far this season. Blake Snell apparently still recovering from his arthroscopic surgery last July, hasn’t exceeded 53 pitches in a game and holds a 5.40 ERA.
Trevor Richards looked great in summer camp but has a 10.13 ERA so far on the 2020 season. He has given up six earned runs in his two appearances this season.
Overall, the team numbers are still pretty good overall. Ryan Yarbrough looks like a stud after two games. Charlie Morton looked like his normal self in his second start. Tyler Glasnow has 14 strikeouts in 8.2 innings (although his walks are worrisome with his history).
- Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, and Chaz Roe have yet to allow a single earned run.
- Jalen Beeks leads all relief pitchers in strikeouts with 14 punchouts in 6.2 innings of work.
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of three teams with double-digit errors
Defense-first philosophy doesn’t work if the defense isn’t playing well. The Rays have 10 errors on the season, including four by sure-handed shortstop Willy Adames.
The blunders don’t stop on defense. After a clutch rally in game two against the Orioles, the Rays were able to put three on the board in the eighth inning to tie the game. In extra innings, Ji-Man Choi represented the Rays free runner at second base to begin the inning. He tried to tag up on a fly ball to left field and ran himself into a leadoff double play.
It was a costly mistake as Jose Martinez and Brandon Lowe each walked and then advanced on a wild pitch. Woulda shoulda coulda…Hypothetically, Choi would have scored on that pitch. Even though going back in time and changing one small thing can severely disrupt the space-time continuum, Choi on third with one out provides a much higher probability of scoring. It was a bad mistake.
These small examples shine brightly under the spotlight of recency bias. 60-games is enough to weather a few errors or mistakes. Although sometimes they seem like superior beings, they are just humans, which is a species prone to making a few mistakes.
Overall, there are a lot of positives. Ryan Yarbrough looks amazing. The bullpen is still fierce and striking batters out at an elite rate. Most of the guys hitting under .100 are due for a correction. Blake Snell will eventually be able to complete five innings.
Don’t panic and don’t forget your towel.