It has been an eventful first half of the season for the Tampa Bay Rays, and it is time to breakdown where the team stands entering the All-Star Break.
The Tampa Bay Rays finished the first half at 51-41, second place in the AL East and 13 games back of the MLB best New York Yankees. The Rays have fought back to be the top Wild Card in the AL, with the streaking Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays close behind.
It is amazing how competitive the Rays have been this season with the amount of injuries the team has had. Most teams can point to injuries as a major obstacle for their club, but the Rays have easily been one of the most injury stricken teams in the league.
Players such as Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Mike Zunino, Luis Patino, Harold Ramirez, Jalen Beeks, Josh Fleming, and more have landed on the IL at different points this season, and players like Tyler Glasnow, Shane Baz, Nick Anderson, and Pete Fairbanks have missed significant time.
The next man up mentality has been with the team all year. There have been stretches where the club appears went too thin, yet they have always found a way to bounce back and get some victories.
The biggest bright spot of the season thus far has been ace Shane McClanahan, who turned in one of the best first halves in MLB history. If the left hander keeps up his pace, he will not only win the AL Cy Young, but may have an all-time season on his hands.
The Rays should be commended for their fight in the first half, and if the team can somehow get some better luck on the injury front in the second half and bring back some of their key pieces, they will have a legit shot had holding onto that first Wild Card spot and be one of the best contenders in the American League come October.