The Tampa Bay Rays begin the second half of the season looking up at the first-place Boston Red Sox.
The Rays trail the Sox by a game and a half in the division. These two rivals will play each other 13 times between now and mid-September.
If the Rays are hoping to win the division, they will have to win most of these games against Boston.
Sunday, August 1, the Rays and Red Sox will be the featured ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game from Tropicana Field.
The Rays have had to patch the bullpen and the rotation together again due to an ungodly amount of injuries.
The Rays are looking to get some of those injured pitchers back from injury later this month. Chris Archer and Oliver Drake could all return to the club in the next couple of weeks.
Both Archer and Drake have started throwing, and Archer is ready for a rehab assignment.
Ryan Thompson was due to return by the end of the month. But Thompson still has some pain when throwing, so he will get more tests done and be out a bit longer.
Kevin Cash talked about what these guys mean to the Rays and the organization. “They are a big part of our club, and the depth that we have has really been tested. If we can get those guys back and healthy heading into August, we should feel pretty good.”
Not only have the Rays had to overcome the loss of Nick Anderson, But Tyler Glasnow has been out since early June. Glasnow is just now starting to do some long toss throwing.
Cash said there is no timetable on Anderson’s return, and Glasnow is unlikely to pitch again this season. Not the news we were hoping to hear regarding these two pitchers.
The Rays are 56- 39 after a 9-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
Two reasons for the Rays’ success this season have been the bullpen’s late-inning heroics and the teams’ ability to score runs late in the game in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.
The Rays have a team 3.82 ERA through the first six innings of games. The team has a 2.68 ERA for innings seven through nine.
The Rays have also given up just 82 runs in the final three innings, which is the fewest in MLB.
The offense has been excellent in the late innings, as only the Houston Astros have scored more runs than the Rays in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.
The Rays have also played more rookies this season than any team in MLB and currently have four of the top prospects in baseball on the roster.
Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan, Taylor Walls, and last year’s playoff hero Randy Arozarena.
In only 30 starts, Walls has established himself as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. Walls is second among all MLB shortstops with runs saved.
The Rays have a 94 percent chance of making the playoffs, so barring a collapse of biblical proportions, the Rays should at least get a wild card spot.
The Rays feel they have some unfinished business to take care of after losing to the LA Dodgers in last year’s World Series four games to two.
This will be a fun team to watch the second half of the season. The key for the Rays to a deep playoff run will be a more consistent offense and adding a starting pitcher.
With Glasnow not guaranteed to return this season, the Rays will need to add some starting pitching.
Michal Wacha, and Rich Hill, will leave no team shaking in their cleats come October.