After starting May on a positive note, the Tampa Bay Rays have fallen back into a slump. The Rays were swept by the Baltimore Orioles last week, and lost two of three to the Cleveland Indians this past weekend. Their record is now 16-22, putting them in last place in the AL East, as well as second to last in the entire American League. The only team in the AL with a worse record is the lowly Houston Astros. Having now played close to a quarter of the regular season, it is safe to say that the Rays are starting to dig themselves into a really deep hole that they may not be able to get out of.
The Rays have been plagued by injuries and underperformance this season, which has resulted in a start that is far below what was expected during Spring Training. It is not as if the Rays were supposed to have an okay year and are falling a little below the .500 mark. This was a team that many foresaw winning the AL East and making a serious run in the playoffs. Looking at the position that they are in now, it is difficult to be optimistic about them even reaching a Wild Card spot.
The starting rotation has been the most noticeable area of struggle, which can be mostly attributed to the fact that it has been seriously depleted by injury. David Price, however, has remained healthy all season, but has struggled in comparison to his usually great statistics. The Rays’ ace is 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA in eight starts, which is far from the numbers that he and the team had anticipated. As of now, the two best starting pitchers in the rotation are the two that originally did not make the cut. Both Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard have started in five games and have so far outperformed their teammates. Ramos has gone 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA, and Bedard is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
The one saving grace for the Rays may be the fact that the rest of the AL East looks nearly as weak as they do. The Baltimore Orioles are currently in first place with a record of 20-15, which to put into perspective, would not put them in first place in any other division in baseball.
The Rays start a seven game road trip on the west coast tonight with a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners, followed by a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. There is no question that the team needs to start performing a whole lot better, and needs to do it soon. If the Rays continue to look like a sub-par team as we get closer to the trade deadline, we may see the team send off some of its stars in exchange for minor league talent.
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