The Tampa Bay Rays are the American League East’s version of the Little Engine That Could. They are the ant that toppled the rubber tree plant. Working with a limited budget in a small market, the Rays have proven capable of running with and even outgunning the mighty powers of this division, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Like their Florida cousins the Miami Marlins, the Rays continue to watch key players leave for more money elsewhere, and yet they still find a way to compete and even contend.
It might not be wise to count the current Rays roster as a contender for American League East honors, but based on their history of overachievement, it would seem to be a foolhardy pursuit to count them out.
Tampa Bay Rays Betting Lines Today
A sensational run from 2008-13 that saw the Rays post five 90-win seasons, make four playoff appearance and reach the 2008 World Series came to a crashing halt with back to back losing campaigns in 2014 and 2015.
In 2014, the Rays’ kryptonite was pitching and defense. They gave up too many runs.
Tampa Bay Rays Scores & Schedule
The Tampa Bay Rays scores and schedule appear here and the numbers in the left column – the win column – would figure to take an uptick in the Rays can figure out the funk that’s hampered third baseman Evan Longoria the past two seasons.
Tampa Bay Rays Standings Right Now
When you look at the Tampa Bay Rays up to date standings here, where they are situated will be all about their pitching. But while the Rays possess a sensational starting rotation, their bullpen can be an adventure.
How To Win At Tampa Bay Rays Betting
In 2015, the enemy was their bats. They didn’t score enough to win enough, although despite their losing record the Rays managed to produce a positive run differential, scoring 644 runs while allowing 642.
Tampa Bay allowed fewer runs than any American League East team but they also scored fewer runs than any team in the division.
If only they could hit, the Rays would be scary good. In 2015, Chris Archer became the eighth pitcher in Major League history to strike out 250 batters in a season while posting a losing record. Some believe Archer’s slider is the nastiest in baseball.
Pitching has been estimated by some experts to be at least 75 per cent of a baseball team’s worth but the math doesn’t compute where the Rays are concerned. Despite posting the fourth-best earned-run average in the American League over 2014-15, the Rays managed to lose 10 more games than they won in that span.
Tampa Bay just keeps letting quality pitchers go – think David Price and James Shields in past years and more recently, Nate Karns, dealt away after leading the American League eith a 3.53 ERA in 2015. Regardless, the Rays probably still go seven deep in capable Major League starting pitchers.
Closer Brad Boxberger led the American League with 41 saves in 2015. Boxberger also topped all AL relievers with a combined 16 losses plus blown saves, including six walkoff defeats. He walks are far too frequent and he serves up the long ball at a frightening rate to be a consistent big league finisher.
The scary proposition for anyone betting on the Rays that among their bullpen, Boxberger is the best of the bunch.
For years among the American League leaders in Wins Above Replacement, Longoria slumped to a .744 on base plus slugging in 2014-15 after averaging .870 from 2008-13. The question that the Tampa Bay brass must answer and you must ask yourself before pondering a wager on the Rays, is this downturn due to a decline in Longoria’s game, or is he simply the victim of being the only potent big league hitter in a popgun batting order?
With even half decent run support, he’s talented enough to be in the Cy Young Award conversation. Others believe that Erasmo Ramirez possesses thhe game’s best change-up and the numbers back up that assessment. Batters put up an American League low .507 OPS off Ramirez’s change-up. Jake Odorizzi posted a 3.35 ERA but his run support ranked 35th overall in the American League.
The Rays do have some players, especially if Evan Longoria returns to form at the plate. With the glove, he set a team record and led the American League in 2015 with a .976 fielding percentage. Logan Forsythe’s 5.1 WAR was second-best among AL second basemen.
And center fielder Kevin Kiermaier’s SABER defensive index of 29.2 was more than double of any American League player at any position.
The problem for the Rays is that they simply don’t have enough good players to make them a solid bet as an American League East contender.