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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget



Updated: 2017-09-22T22:34:15-04:00

 



Rays vs. Orioles, game two recap: A grand buffalo

2017-09-22T22:34:15-04:00

Wilson Ramos made the Rays baserunners count. The game plan to beat Ubaldo Jimenez is not a secret. At this point, lots of teams have done it. Take your walks and hit your ground balls. You’ll get plenty of men on base. It’s what happens next that determines the outcome of the game. If Jimenez is able to rack up strikeouts and groundball double plays, his team might win. If instead he gives up hard contact, the runs will come in bunches. The second inning was exactly to script for the Rays. First, Logan Morrison was hit by a pitch. Then Steven Souza Jr. grounded up the middle,, just out of the reach of Tim Beckham. Then Corey Dickerson grounded into right field, just out of the reach of Jonathan Schoop. Get a chance? Have to do something with it. Wilson Ramos did. He went down and got every bit of a low fastball at the bottom of the zone, flying it out to left-center for a grand slam. In the bottom of the inning, the Orioles tried to answer. They flipped two singles into right and then took a walk to load the bases with no outs, just like the Rays had done, but Alex Cobb was able to limit the damage. Austin Hays flew out to center (just shy of the warning track, slightly scary), to sacrifice home one run, and another scored on a wild pitch (which was as much Ramos’s fault as it was Cobb’s—sometimes a pitcher buries his curve, and it’s a good pitch, and he needs his catcher to do his part to make it a good pitch), but Cobb rallied to strike out Pedro Alvarez and get out of the inning ahead 4-2. The Rays got those runs back immediately, when Evan Longoria opened the third inning with a home run, and then a series of singles ended with Logan Morrison scoring while Ramos was caught in a rundown for the third out. “Ramos in a rundown.” Think about those words. Then move on. The important thing was that the run scored. Orioles Problems on the Basepaths The Orioles had a few chances to shrink the lead (and they did manage to, momentarily, with a Chris Davis home run). But they ran themselves into a couple outs that made the night easier for Cobb. With one out in the third inning, both Manny Machado and Schoop singled, ending up on first and second, and then Adam Jones hit a third consecutive single—a line drive into left field. Machado tried to score from second, testing Dickerson’s suspect outfield arm. But Dickerson was equal to the challenge. His throw was accurate, and strong enough to get Machado by several paces. Then, in the sixth inning, two singles and a wild pitch put Orioles runners on second and third. Pedro Alvarez hit a soft chopper to the left that Cobb fielded easily. Oddly, Chris Davis went, getting stranded far off third. Cobb recognized this and ran him down unassisted. That meant he didn’t have to turn and throw to first a more difficult play, and it left only one runner in scoring position rather than the two that had started the play. I mention these mistakes because sometimes we fans seem to think that our team is special in terms of making mistakes. Buck Showalter gets held up as a paragon of managerial preparations. His teams also are not perfect. Some other notes: Steven Souza Jr. and Corey Dickerson combined for a pair of hits that stretched the Rays lead to 7-3. That’s how the game ended. Ramos nearly went yard a second time, but was sent back to second base when replay showed that his fly ball hit the very top of the right-center wall and came back without touching anything out of play. In the ninth inning, Steven Souza Jr. popped up on the infield. He was mad. He tried to break his bat on his knee. It didn’t work. Then he threw it on the ground. It clearly wasn’t funny for Souza. It was a little bit funny for the rest of us. In the third inning, Evan Longoria made a good backhanded grab in foul territory, and then uncorked a very strong throw that robbed Tim Beckham of a hit. Logan Morrison’s catch to complete the play was possibly made more difficult by Beckham’s helmet bouncing at his feet. It’s nice to see that the Orioles equipment managers have h[...]



Projecting the Rays' 5-Man Rotation for 2018

2017-09-22T13:00:02-04:00

Chris Archer will again lead the Rays’ perpetually strong rotation Yesterday, I took a look at which of the Rays’ starting pitchers was most likely to be in traded this winter. The list of candidates included Jake Odorizzi, Matt Andriese, Austin Pruitt, Nathan Eovaldi, Brent Honeywell, and Jose De Leon. Now I'd like to project the Rays’ 2018 five-man pitching rotation. Barring a surprise acquisition, the pitchers who will comprise the Rays' starting rotation in 2018 are already on the roster. The players who will make up the rotation should not be a huge surprise, as they have each been in the organization for a while. So, without further ado, my projection for the Rays 2018 five-man pitching rotation. 1. Chris Archer (R) - The lovable kid isn't an ace, but he still belongs in the AL's top-tier of starting pitchers. As long as he is under contract with the Rays, he is the starter at the top of the rotation. 2. Blake Snell (L) - The southpaw has been the Rays best starter since the All-Star break. 12 GS, 69.1 IP, 21.7%K, 7.6%BB, 3.38 ERA, 3.65 FIP. If Snell can continue to develop and mature over the course of the 2018 season, he should be able to give the Rays a confident starter who can be counted on for at least six innings per start. 3. Jacob Faria (R) - The most consistent Rays' starter in 2017. Faria is poised to have a very good 2018. His consistency makes him an ideal third starter for a team that prides itself on pitching and defense as the blueprint to success. 4. Matt Andriese (R) - He's been roughly an average starter at 2017. Giving your team a shot is all you can ask for from a 4-5 starter. Andriese should be just that in 2018. 5. Nathan Eovaldi (R) - Think he will impress enough in spring training to warrant a fifth starter position. He's always been one of the hardest-throwing starters in baseball and provides a solid low-risk, high-reward option for the Rays on an inexpensive contract. I believe that rotation can be good enough with Archer as your best pitcher. He's not a number one, but there's only a half dozen true number one's in all of baseball. Faria and Snell are two key names that need to pitch well for the Rays to have a bright future. After that, we have a couple of number fives in Andriese and Eovaldi that could be 4-5 depending on performance. This keeps us with Pruitt as a 6th man, long-inning reliever - a role he's much more suited too. In the event of injury, they have two young prospects in Jose De Leon and Ryan Yarbough who are ready to come up and make a spot start. The two pitchers are also available for promotion in the event that the likely-to-be speculated Chris Archer trade ever comes to fruition. I doubt they will shuttle Honeywell, suggesting they will call him up and let him go to work in the big leagues for good. On the glass half empty side of things, our depth becomes worrisome if the Rays are down on De Leon and don't view Chih-Wei Hu as a starter. Suddenly then it's just Andriese, Eovaldi, Pruitt, and Honeywell as our 4-5-6-7, with maybe Yonny Chirinos as an extra option. That being said, perhaps the Rays will add a veteran SP on a cheap contract? What are your thoughts on my projection? Leave a comment. [...]



Are the Rays over-dependent on the long ball?

2017-09-22T10:00:02-04:00

Do they need to go the other way more often with two strikes? On this week’s edition of This Week in Rays Baseball, the excellent Neil Solondz-hosted podcast that comes out weekly and looks into Rays happenings, Solondz sat down with Dave Wills, Andy Freed, and Brian Anderson for their final round-table discussion of the 2017 regular season. It was an interesting discussion, as they always are, but one mini-exchange with BA made my analytical ears perk up: “On the flip side, the home run dependency… If you want to be a team that can occasionally manufacture runs, you have to have an approach at the plate. And that’s what you don’t see with this group. You don’t see anybody cut their swing down with two strikes. You don’t see anybody look to go the other way with two strikes and move a runner. It is all or nothing.” There’s a lot going on in that 30 seconds of Classic Baseball Talk. It’s the type of paragraph that gives writers like me, who have time to sit back and analyze this type of comment instead of having to respond in the moment, a chance to see if BA is onto something, or if he was mistaken and his in-the-moment take maybe wasn’t as factually-based as he might have thought. Let’s tackle the two main parts of his argument separately. Home Run Dependency The Rays reliance on the long ball has been a classic trope over the last few seasons, as the club has turned to the long ball more than ever. First they broke the single-season franchise home run record in 2016, and now they are just two home runs away from breaking that record again in 2017. It is quite in vogue among the more pointy-headed of fans to dismiss BA’s type of comment as silly and uninformed, however, BA may actually be onto something. Here are the teams that have most relied on home runs for their total run production in 2017. (Thanks to DRB writer Adam Sanford for pulling the data for and creating this chart.) There are the Rays right near the top of the league, trailing only the Blue Jays and Athletics. That part shouldn’t surprise most fans. The Rays have several go-big-or-go-home players in their lineup, and they have struggled all season with runners in scoring position. What might surprise folks is that BA might be correct when worrying about this home run reliance. Among the top six teams in home run dependency, only one of those teams possesses a wRC+ over 100, and only that same team ranks among the top 14 in baseball in wRC+. (Very quick side note: Try to guess which team it is… I’ll wait… Bet you didn’t guess it was the A’s.) While small ball may be over-festishized by the old school types, it does appear, at least in part, that an over-reliance on home runs can lead stunt an offense at times. Approach at the Plate The second part of BA’s comments on the Rays hitters seems even more damning at first. It sounds like he’s saying that the Rays hitters lack the discipline or wherewithal to be cognizant of changing up their approach with two strikes. Thanks to the FanGraphs splits leaderboard, we can actually get some data as to whether or not the Rays change their approach with two strikes or not. The main thing BA noted was that he didn’t see any of the Rays willing to go to the opposite field with two strikes. In all plate appearances in 2017, Rays hitters have gone to the opposite field 24.6 percent of the time. With two strikes in the count, crazy enough, it’s that very same 24.6 percent. In the strictest sense of what BA was saying, he was correct. The Rays hitter haven’t gone to the opposite field more with two strikes - they’ve gone oppo at literally the exact same rate. The fair follow-up question for this data is whether or not that is common around the league. The Rays rank 22nd in overall opposite field percentage, and that rank drops to 25th in two-strike counts. The league, as a whole, goes to the opposite half a percent more often with two strikes. So while it doesn’t appear to be a massive difference, it d[...]



Tim Beckham’s team faced the Rays and Marc Topkin can’t let him go

2017-09-22T09:29:16-04:00

Tim Beckham’s team faced off against the Rays (although Beckham wasn’t playing because he just had his wisdom teeth out), and Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Marc Topkin simply can’t let him go. This is article is embarrassing for a bunch of reasons: Topkin cites Beckham’s overall performance (which has been good), and then argues against that being good by cherry-picking two different sets of arbitrary endpoints to show that Beckham, like all baseball players, has had both periods of good and bad production. That’s what baseball is like. Rule of thumb: if you need to resort alternating arbitrary endpoints to make your point, you should find a different point. Topkin appeals to the anonymous authority of “those who watch the Orioles regularly” (translation: his friend, a Baltimore beat reporter) to say that Beckham has had fielding lapses and baserunning errors. We get it. We know. “We who watch the Rays regularly” have a pretty good idea what Beckham is, too. He makes some good plays and some bad plays. Some of those mistakes are mental, and it would be nice to see him clear those up. He’s also now proven himself to be a major league shortstop, which is kind of an amazing, impressive thing to be. The guy the Rays play at second base, Brad Miller, has proven himself to not be a major league shortstop. Why, Topkin, do you focus on mental errors so much and on overall defensive ability to little? Topkin got a quote from Buck Showalter saying that Tobias Myers may be pretty good. Yeah, he might be. But don’t let us pretend this article is about Tobias Myers. This article is about Tim Beckham and how Marc Topkin doesn’t like him. Maybe because of how Tim Beckham interacts with Marc Topkin. Which is maybe why Marc Topkin includes the bit about how Tim Beckham “blew him off” and “got defensive” when Topkin went fishing for a juicy quote about what was different in Baltimore. Beckham apparently said that he wanted to talk about his play on the field. Oh the horror! Consider this quote: And before ending the conversation, he made it clear he didn't like what was written when he left: "You tried to crush me over there. … I know what y'all were trying to do." That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Is Beckham paranoid?!? Can we say that Beckham is paranoid when the quote that makes him sound paranoid is actually appearing in a weird, misguided article that feels like score-settling by the writer and is doing exactly the thing Beckham is “paranoid” about said writer doing? You can’t make this up. Late in the article, Topkin says that Beckham was “sulking,” but then lets other Rays speak. Logan Morrison, Steven Souza Jr., and Alex Cobb all chime in to say how much they liked having Beckham and his competitiveness around. Cobb’s words: "It did change things," starter Alex Cobb said. "Looking back, it's hard not to wonder if trading Beckham and not getting a major-league piece back … that last move is what you remember, and it's a little bit of a bitter taste in your mouth. You feel like you took away from part of your major-league team and didn't make it better.” At no point in the article does Topkin mention the fact that the Rays badly needed a right-handed bat and that Beckham was a right-handed bat. At no point does he mention the important at bats and innings given to the likes of Danny Espinosa after the trade. This is a lame ending: “Sometimes, it's hard to know what to think.” I think it’s pretty easy to know what to think, Topper. Other Beckham Stuff Just look at this clubhouse cancer. Catching up with an old friend. pic.twitter.com/YMAKAfFMOE— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 21, 2017 And Jeff Sullivan threw his name into a pot with some other names as a a candidate for baseball’s most improved player. Short Non-Beckham Roundup Daniel Robertson talked his good experience in the Triple-A playoffs. Tom Tango’s fan scouting report is out. Go fill it out for the R[...]



TB 1, BAL 3: At least it was quick

2017-09-21T22:23:05-04:00

Rays offense shows no signs of life, fight, heart, or other cliche sports terms. Stop if you have heard this one before: Rays starting pitcher gets into a bit of trouble early, settles down, but offense shows no life against lesser heralded young starting pitcher. Did you stop me when I started the recap with the super overused sports recap opening line? Anyway, the Rays put up another frustrating offensive performance. I am starting to believe that first half was a mirage. A fever dream cooked up to finally give my mind what it has desperately craved since the days of Pena bombs, Longo Long Flys, and sweet swings from Bossman Jr. This game tonight was yet another real disappointment. One where the Rays finally got a good enough start and the bullpen stayed dominant as usual (still weird to write that). 1 run on 5 hits (2 of which for extra bases) against the former Mets prospect Gabriel Ynoa. I am completely unfamiliar with Ynoa. Turns out he’s Cy Young. Who knew? Turning point on the 2nd Batter The Rays started fast against Ynoa, when Mallex knocked a double to leadoff. This was the first batter of the game and also the very best chance the Rays had to produce any real threat tonight. Mallex would get greedy, try and steal third, and would get thrown out on ball 4 to Lucas Duda. There are times to be aggressive, but when stealing, you have to pick and choose those times very carefully. The double and then full count to Duda was putting pressure on a young starter early. Two on, no out, with the meat of the order coming up in the very 1st inning could have changed this entire game. Instead Mallex ran into a gift out, and the Rays offense would be the loud, slightly hilarious sound of a deflating balloon. Rough start righted Matt Andriese pitched well, but got himself into trouble in the bottom half of the 1st. Leadoff single, wild pitch, and HR, all within the first 6 pitches. Andriese would give up a double and single to push the O’s scored to 3-0, but limit the damage there. I don’t want this to get lost in this poor game: Matt Andriese actually pitched well. After that rough start, Andriese would get into a groove and keep the O’s from ever really mounting another real threat. Andriese finished the game with 6 innings, 8 Ks, and just those 3 ER from the 1st. The Bullpen tonight of Steve Cishek and Sergio Romo did their job, keeping the Baltimore score at 3. 3 runs is a winnable game. Unfortunately, it seemed (and ended up being) insurmountable on this night. What’s Offense? Recently recalled Daniel Robertson, fresh off helping lead Durham to the Triple-A Championship, knocked in the only run of the night for the Rays. After Brad Miller led off the top of the 3rd with a Double, DRob knocked in a non-RBI sharp single the other way. The only run for the Rays tonight came “unearned” as the official scored ruled the O’s RF Austin Hays hard charge and boot of the ball allowed Miller to score. And that was it. The Rays would not get past 1st base again until the 9th inning with 2 outs. I want to end this recap with something that just I can’t get over: The only Tampa Bay player to get a hit with a runner in scoring position tonight was Daniel Robertson, who was left in Durham for the playoff run. Look, I’m not saying the Rays season could have been salvaged. Even Tim Beckham (who missed tonight’s game due to getting his wisdom teeth pulled) has cooled way down the past month. There may not have been one, or two, or twelve call-ups or moves the Rays could have made to keep the team competitive down the stretch. But tonight, one of those prospects left down in Durham generated the only run of the game for Tampa Bay. And that just makes the loss hurt even more. [...]



Series Preview: Get ready for the TBex Reunion

2017-09-21T15:50:34-04:00

Rays take on Orioles in Charm City The Tampa Bay Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles in seven of their last ten games, starting tonight with four games in Baltimore. The Orioles have struggled in September, losing 12 of their last 14 games, including two recent shutouts their last two times out against the Boston Red Sox. The Matchups: Thursday 7:05 PM: Matt Andriese vs Gabriel YnoaFriday 7:05 PM: Alex Cobb vs Jeremy HellicksonSaturday 7:05 PM: Jake Odorizzi vs Ubaldo JimenezSunday 1:35 PM: Chris Archer vs Dylan Bundy The Orioles starting rotation is their weak link. The Orioles rotation has the highest ERA in the majors at 5.64. Their 5.20 FIP is third highest with only the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox coming in higher. Gabriel Ynoa entered the year as the ninth best prospect in the New York Mets system, according to Baseball America. The Orioles acquired Ynoa for cash considerations in February. The scouting reports indicate he throws his fastball at 93 mph with an above average changeup and slider. In two starts with the Orioles he’s allowed six runs, five earned, in nine innings. He has struck out seven and walked two. Next, Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove Award winner (remember that?) Jeremy Hellickson takes on his former team. Last year Hellickson had a bounce back season with the Philadelphia Phillies, but this year has been his worst as a pro. His 5.47 ERA and 5.82 FIP are both the highest in his career. His strikeouts have plummeted to 13.7%. His 6.8% walk rate is right around his career rate. In his last start the New York Yankees jumped on Hellickson for six runs in three innings including two homers. He has walked four batters in three of his last four starts. Ubaldo Jimenez is another Orioles pitcher putting up the worst season of their career. In 139.2 innings he has a 6.57 ERA and 5.43 FIP. His 21.6% strikeout rate is his highest since 2011. His 9.2% walk rate is better than his 10.5% career rate. The problem has been the longball. He’s allowed a 20.3% HR/FB rate and 31 total homers. Jimenez had a strong showing in his last start. He allowed one run in five innings while picking up ten strikeouts. Dylan Bundy has been the Orioles most effective starting putting up a 4.24 ERA and 4.38 FIP in 169.2 innings. Bundy has posted a solid 21.8% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate. Bundy got hammered by the Red Sox in his last start allowing six runs in 4.1 innings. Zach Britton is hurt once again. Last year Zach Britton put up one of the best relief seasons in MLB history. This year he hasn’t been able to get going. He’s only managed 37.1 innings in 38 appearances. Yesterday Britton received a platelet-rich-plasma injection in his left knee and will have to miss a minimum of three to five days. In Britton’s absence Brad Brach (2.60 ERA/3.58 FIP) and Mychal Givens (2.84 ERA/3.88 FIP) have done most of the heavy lifting. Brach has picked up 17 saves. Darren O’Day (3.59 ERA/3.83 FIP) has missed some time, but has been effective for 57.2 innings. The Orioles offense has hit a wall. With the lack of starting pitching the Orioles have had to out-slug their opposition to win games. In August that worked quite well; in September not so much. This month they’ve been the league’s worst offense, hitting .213/.263/.358 and 60 wRC+. They have only scored 55 runs (2.89 runs per game). Overall they are hitting .261/.314/.441 and 97 wRC+. Former Ray Tim Beckham started off hot after being traded to the Orioles. His first two weeks he hit .485/.507/.879 and put up a 268 wRC+ through 69 plate appearances. He’s come back to earth hitting .226/.279/.380 and 72 wRC+ in his next 147 plate appearances. Jonathan Schoop has been their best bat over the season with a 124 wRC+ and tied with Manny Machado for the team lead with 32 homers. Machado has had a disappointing season at the plate with a 107 wRC+, but has brought his stellar defense. Wellington Castillo has had[...]



Rays Trade Rumors: Which pitchers could be dealt?

2017-09-21T14:00:02-04:00

The Rays like to turn surplus arms into prospects. The Rays have nine candidates for the 2018 rotation: Chris Archer, Jacob Faria, Blake Snell, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Andriese, Nathan Eovaldi, Austin Pruitt, Brent Honeywell, and Jose De Leon. I will assume (more on these assumptions later) the Rays rotation in 2018 has Chris Archer, Jacob Faria, and Blake Snell set in stone but beyond that the Rays will be making a move with one or two of their starting pitching candidates. This begs the question: which surplus pitchers will be dealt over the winter? 6. Brent Honeywell - 12-8, 3.64 ERA, 2.84 FIP in 26 minor-league starts Contract status: Prospect There is little to no chance that Honeywell gets moved this coming offseason. Cheap, young players with star potential like Honeywell are more valuable to the Rays than other teams because they are the worst positioned to buy wins. I would hedge more on the Rays trying to get him into a Chris Archer type extension but he is included in this list in the event someone feels that his trade value would net the Rays a blockbuster return. It is likely that Brent Honeywell begins the year in Durham but I believe there is a small chance he begins the year in the Rays rotation and has a contract extension in hand by the time he makes his 2018 debut. 5. Nathan Eovaldi - Missed all of 2017 season after Tommy John. 9-8, 3.37 ERA, 4.44 FIP in 2016 with Yankees Contract status: 2017: $2 million, 2018: $2 million club option The Rays are going to roll the dice with Eovaldi in 2017, and all signs point to him being on the 25-man roster. Whether that is as a starter or a reliever is to be determined. For now, he offers more value as a potential rebound than in the trade market and will have every chance to win a starting spot in next year's rotation. Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports 4. Austin Pruitt - 7-5, 5.14 ERA, 4.21 FIP Contract status: 2017: $535,000, 2018-2019: Pre-Arb. Eligible, 2020-2022: Arb. Eligible, 2023: Free Agent With no track record and an inconsistent 2017, I can't see many organizations having too much interest in the 27-year old right-hander this winter. The Rays will hold onto Pruitt, evaluate him next spring, then decide where he belongs in the organization. His mostly likely role is serving as injury replacement. Ron Jenkins/Getty Images 3. Jose De Leon - Injured most of 2017 season Contract status: 2017-2019: Pre-Arb. Eligible, 2020-2022: Arb. Eligible, 2023: Free Agent De Leon is possibly the most intriguing pitcher on the list. On the one hand, he’s under team control for six more seasons, none of which is likely to tax a team’s finances too significantly. On the other hand, De Leon hasn't shown anything in his time in the Rays organization because of injury. He's landed on the minor league DL three times this season, as he's dealt with right elbow tendinitis for much of the year. The 2017 campaign is shaping up to be a lost one for De Leon, who has been limited to just 41 innings between the majors and minors. I'm not 100% confident the Rays will trade De Leon this winter, but I am sure they will listen to offers, especially if their confidence in him has flagged. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports 2. Matt Andriese - 5-3, 4.44 ERA, 5.01 FIP Contract status: 2017: $547,500, 2018: Pre-Arb. Eligible, 2019-2021: Arb. Eligible, 2022: Free Agent Andriese may be the one of most valuable assets on this list given his contract status and his success at the major league level in 2+ seasons. He won the battle for the fifth starter’s job in spring training and was pitching well prior to being placed on the 10-day disabled list with a groin strain. When he finally returned, he had to leave the game after aggravating his strained right groin, only to find out he would soon be placed on the 60-day DL with a stress reaction in his hip. In [...]



Here is how the Rays can still make the playoffs

2017-09-21T11:30:50-04:00

And it may or may not involve a six-way tie for the second Wild Card spot... The Tampa Bay Rays are currently have a record of 74-78 in 2017. They have played 152 games, which means they have 10 games left to go. Currently, the Rays are four games back in the race for the second Wild Card with five teams ahead of them. Fangraphs and MLB.com both peg the Rays with less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs... but that means there is still a chance. The Minnesota Twins are currently in possession of the second Wild Card spot with the opposite record of the Rays at 78-74. Behind the Twins are the Angles (1.5 GB), Rangers (2.5 GB), Royals (3.5 GB), Mariners (4 GB), and then the Rays (4 GB). Teams with a 0.5 GB have an eleventh game yet to play. Looking at the schedule ahead, the Rays play the Baltimore Orioles seven times, a team that has been reeling as of late. The Rays will mix in a three game set with the New York Yankees as well. For the Rays to miraculously surge to a playoff spot, there are at least seven scenarios where Tampa Bay can match the Twins win-loss record and still qualify for the second Wild Card. The simplest math: If the Rays win all ten of their remaining games, the Minnesota Twins would have to drop at least five of their remaining 10 games for the Rays to be ahead in the standings. The Twins will take on the lowly Detroit Tigers for seven of those contest and the play the Cleveland Indians for the other three. But that doesn’t take into consideration the rest of the competition for the Wild Card spot. In order for the Rays to pass the Twins, they’d also have to pass the other four teams in their way. The Angels have four games coming up against the respective division winners of the AL Central and West, so they could hit a road block. Then they take on the Mariners, in what should be a hotly contested Wild Card matchup. The Rangers get the Oakland Athletics for seven games, but also have three against the Astros and a remaining game against the Mariners. The Royals have one remaining game against the Blue Jays, a makeup game with the Yankees, and then three game game series left with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Angels. Then you have the Mariners who will play a game against the Rangers, then move onto series with the Indians, Athletics, and Angels. So, the perfect storm in order for the Rays to make the playoffs is complicated. The easiest way to digest the information is to see what records would result in a six-way tie for the final Wild Card Slot: To read the table, use the Twins record as a point of reference for a tie in the standings. If teams do worse, they move farther right on the grid and out of the tie. For instance, if the Rays only win eight games of the ten remaining, they would need every team to have a W/L record above them or in a column to the right on the table for the Rays to qualify for the post season. So, yes! There is still a possibility that the Rays could make the playoffs. But, realistically, every game is now must win and the Rays will have to play much better than they have thus far during the month of September. [...]