Rays bounce back from 1-8 start to climb above .500

16 Comments

Tampa Bay began the season 1-8 as many people rushed to write the Rays off after numerous key players departed as free agents, but with last night’s win over the Twins they’re now 12-11 overall, going 11-3 since the dreadful start.

What’s particularly remarkable about the Rays climbing above .500 is that they’re winning with the same pitching-and-defense equation they thrived on last season despite losing Gold Glove left fielder Carl Crawford and basically their entire bullpen to free agency, trading shortstop Jason Bartlett, and being without third baseman Evan Longoria since the second game of the season.

Yet the Rays’ relievers rank fourth among AL teams with a 3.06 ERA that’s even better than last season’s league-leading 3.33 mark and their defense ranks second in the league in converting balls in play into outs. And their rotation has been strong too, with James Shields looking like his old self following a career-worst 2010 and ace David Price picking right up where he left off last season.

I’m not sure how long Sam Fuld is going to play like an All-Star and the Kyle Farnsworth closer experiment remains risky despite his being 5-for-5 converting saves so far, but this Rays team is very much a legitimate contender thanks to some shrewd low-cost pickups by the front office, a remarkable farm system that continues to churn out young talent year after year, and a manager in Joe Maddon who excels at mixing and matching to make the puzzle work no matter how odd the pieces may look coming out of the box.

Your latest National League All-Star voting update

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not much has changed with the All-Star voting in the National League this week. All of the same leaders from last week are leading this week. Matt Kemp and Bryce Harper have flip-flopped at 2-3 in the outfield voting but it’s still all the same.

Buster Posey leads at catcher, first base is Freddie Freeman, second is his Braves teammate Ozzie Albies, third is Nolan Arenado, short is Brandon Crawford and Nick Markakis leads the outfield trio.

Your current leaders and their closest pursuers: