3 Rays That Need to Step Up For The Rest of the Season

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Francisco Mejia
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Francisco Mejia

Mejia, who is now the Rays' primary catcher, was on an absolute heater, hitting .356 in the month of July before hitting the injured list earlier this week with a shoulder injury. Mejia has been thrust into a much bigger role with Mike Zunino going down for the season due to thoracic outlet surgery. Now, Rene Pinto and Christian Bethancourt are handling the catching duties in Mejia's absence. He's supposed to return at some point in August following a shoulder injury, and if he can come back and pick up where he left off in July, it would be a seismic boost for the Rays.

Offense at the catcher position is down around the league, and the Rays have been feeling the effects of that more than almost any other team. Mejia had a good season in 2021, with a 107 OPS+ as the team's backup catcher. After a brutal start that saw Mejia enter July with an OPS of .588, he boosted that total over the course of the month by exactly 100 points. In June, he went 15-72 with 1 home run, and in July, he went 16-45 with 3 home runs. They hadn't gotten any production at catcher for the first half of the year, and Mejia was fully turning that around before his injury.

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His exact timetable for return is unknown, but when he comes back, he needs to do everything in his power to maintain the magic he had this month. To have a good offensive catcher would give the Rays a luxury that the majority of the league hasn't been able to afford in 2022, and it would give them one more offensive weapon from within going into October. On the hitting side of things, they need all the help they can get, and Mejia's continued improvement would have a bigger impact than most.