The Tampa Bay Rays are already having a better season than most thought they’d have. As of August 3, they are currently setup to be the away team in the American League Wild Card Game. Tampa has been doing well thus far despite some injuries, but can they keep up over these last weeks of the season? The answer is yes, and here are some reasons why:
The trade deadline provided the Rays with big upgrades to the right side of their infield.
On July 27, second basemen Eric Sogard made his Rays debut against the team he was just traded from. After four games with Tampa Bay, the 33-year-old is 5-for-16 with two RBI and a run scored. The acquisition of Sogard was much needed for this team as both Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle are on the IL.
The Rays also got Jesus Aguilar at the deadline on July 31. The first baseman isn’t having the best overall season at the plate. However, he had a great month of July, slashing .298/.346/.574 in 21 contests. Half of his hits went for extra bases in July, including three long balls. Aguilar will look to continue this trend moving forward in Tampa Bay.
Some other guys have been stepping up for the Rays lately, such as catcher Travis d’Arnaud. In 15 games since the All-Star break, he has seven of his 13 homers on the year. His OBP is also at .412, so he’s providing this Rays team a lot of offense. The 24-year-old Austin Meadows is having a breakout season. As of August 3, his line sits at .287/.362/.528. He also has 17 dingers and 41 total extra base hits on the year. These guys, along with the new additions will want to keep raking at the plate to provide this team a shot at the postseason.
The Rays are playing the series finale against the Marlins today, August 4. After the conclusion of the two-game set, the Rays will play 19 consecutive games against teams below .500 on the season. The teams they’ll play are the Blue Jays, the Mariners twice, Padres, Tigers and Orioles. Of these teams, only the 51-58 San Diego Padres are within 15 games of the even mark.
The Blue Jays and Orioles are AL East counterparts with the Rays. Tampa is a combined 15-6 against those two teams this season and will look to add some more wins against them in August.
The Rays will definitely want to take advantage of this stretch to not only try to stay in the Wild Card race, but maybe even gain some ground on the Yankees in the AL East.
The Rays have last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell on the injury list. Tyler Glasnow, who has a 1.86 ERA on the season is also on the injury list for possibly the season. These are two important starters for this Rays team. Snell will likely return soon, and he’ll want to be a big contributor down the stretch for this team even though he has struggled this season.
The bullpen currently has the fourth-lowest ERA in the league at 3.79. Some lesser-known guys have really stepped up for this Rays team. An example is 25-year-old Diego Castillo. In 42 appearances he has a 3.76 ERA along with eight saves.
Emilio Pagan is also having a career year. Through 45 innings pitched, his ERA sits at 2.00. His WHIP is 0.89, and he also has eight saves like Castillo does.
There are more names that deserve credit, such as Andrew Kittredge and Jalen Beeks, who both sport a sub 4.00 ERA.
If this team can put together a run of both pitching and hitting success, it’s tough to tell just how well this team can finish the season.
Feature Image Courtesy of grandforksherald.com