Through the first 22 games of the season, the Rays have played more like your father’s Devil Rays of 1999-2007 rather than your son’s Rays of 2008. The Rays are currently in last place with a 8-14 record in the very tough AL East and really have not played well all season. For a team that is supposed to be one of the best in the American League, everyone is asking what is wrong with the Rays?
First you can start with the hitting. Despite getting hot starts from Longoria and Bartlett, the Rays rank towards the bottom of the AL in most offensive categories. They are 10th in runs (97), 12th in avg (.260), 9th in OBP (.334), 8th in avg with RISP (.270) and 3rd in K’s (169). The Rays aren’t getting on base and when they do, nobody can get a clutch hit. That is a recipe for disaster.
Second you can look at the pitching staff and in particular the starters. Shields, Garza, Kazmir and Sonnanstine were so good for the Rays last year and well so far this year…not so good. The Rays starters are 9th in the AL with a 5.08 era. Sonnanstine has an era of 7.78, Kazmir has a 5.40 era and Garza has a 4.97 era. Only Shields has had a decent start so far. His era is 3.74. The bullpen, despite meltdowns from Grant Balfour (7.50 era and 7 BB in 6 IP) and Dan Wheeler (8.59 era and 3 HR’s in just 7.1 IP) is in the middle of the pack in the American League with a 3.92 era. They only have blown 1 save opportunity so far and Troy Percival hasn’t broken down yet. The fact that Percival is still healthy is probably more of a positive than only blowing 1 save so far because the Rays have only had 4 save opportunities.
It seems like a perfect storm of inconsistant hitting and pitching for the Rays so far. I asked one of the foremost authorities on the Rays, Cork Gaines of RayIndex.com what is wrong with the Rays and here is what he had to say about the team….
“Right now the Rays are the exact opposite of the Blue Jays. Everybody on the Jays is playing above their norms and it is highly unlikely that this will continue for the entire team.
Nobody thinks Pat Burrell is only going to hit 8 home runs (his current pace). Nobody thinks Dioner Navarro is going to hit under .200. And nobody thinks BJ Upton is going to hit .158 with no home runs all season. Same thing with the pitching staff. Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir are not 5.00 ERA pitchers and Andy Sonnanstine is not a 7.50 ERA pitcher.
Law of averages says there are a lot of hits remaining in those bats and a lot of good innings in those arms.
At the same time, the Rays had better start finding those hits and innings, or they are in danger of digging a hole that is too big to come out of. “
So there you have it Rays’ fans, there is some hope. Here are some other things that should make you feel better as well. The Rays were only 11-11 after 22 games last year and according to Bill James’ Pythagorean Theorem of Winning % (Runs Scored^2/Runs Scored^2 + Runs Allowed^2 = Winning % for those of you scoring at home), the Rays are more of a .470 or .500 team rather than the .364 team they currently are.
The Rays kick off a 4 game home stand starting tonight against the first place Red Sox, a team that has won 11 out of their 12 games. I feel this is a huge series for the Rays. They can back on track with a good series or if they lose 3 out of 4, they might be digging themselves a hole they might not get out of.