Breaking down the Rays’ red-hot first half

This story was excerpted from Adam Berry’s Rays Beat e-newsletter. To learn the complete e-newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it commonly in your inbox.

PHOENIX — The Rays reached the midway level of their season with a 3-1 win over the Royals on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Discipline.

Eighty-one video games down. Eighty-one to go.

“More than happy,” supervisor Kevin Money mentioned. “You have a look at it like, ‘Man, we have labored exhausting to get to this spot,’ and now we need to simply do every part we will to form of keep it and do every part we will to maintain as near the tempo we have had as attainable.”

That’s a tall order, which speaks to how properly their first half went. They received two of each three video games they performed, with an MLB-leading 54-27 record and only one three-game dropping streak all season.

The Rays entered Monday’s off-day on one in all their weakest runs, going 6-7 with a sequence loss to the Padres and sequence splits in opposition to the A’s, Orioles and Royals, however they continue to be atop the American League East (and’s Power Rankings) for good motive.

“We have been enjoying very well all season, and we have maintained it all through the season as properly,” starter Tyler Glasnow mentioned. “It is not likely been like a bunch of ups and downs, and we have form of been regular and it is only a very reassuring feeling.”

Earlier than the second half of the schedule begins, let’s look again on the first 81 video games.

First-half MVP(s)
Randy Arozarena, Yandy Díaz and Wander Franco have all performed such huge elements within the Rays’ first-half success, it’s not possible to choose simply one in all them.

Arozarena’s case is evident. He’s tied for the workforce lead with 14 homers and leads the membership with 54 RBIs, and he’s hitting .292/.405/.485 whereas enjoying greater than anyone on the workforce. The best way he quickly evolved into such a complete hitter is astonishing. (Actually, elevate your hand in the event you had Arozarena main the AL in on-base share 81 video games in.) He’s additionally shortly solid a particular relationship with followers that brings further vitality to the ballpark most nights.

Díaz has additionally taken a step ahead this yr, including energy to his endurance on the plate. From the leadoff spot, he units the tone for every part the Rays lineup has executed. He’s nonetheless drawing walks and never placing out a lot, along with his on-base abilities placing him in place to attain a team-high 51 runs, however his capability to get more of his hard-hit balls in the air has boosted his slash line to .316/.404/.518 with a team-leading 159 OPS+.

Lastly, Franco leads the Rays — and all non-Shohei Ohtani gamers within the AL, in reality — with 4.0 Wins Above Substitute. The 22-year-old switch-hitter is batting .287/.350/.461 with 9 homers and a whopping 25 stolen bases. (Solely two different gamers in franchise historical past have had at the least 25 steals within the workforce’s first 81 video games: Carl Crawford 3 times and B.J. Upton as soon as.) The shortstop has additionally been one of many Majors’ finest defensive gamers at any place; he ranked fifth as of Monday with 12 Defensive Runs Saved and tied for first with 10 Outs Above Average.

First-half Cy Younger
Zach Eflin has been nice, however this one is fairly simple: It’s Shane McClanahan. The lefty is 11-1 with a 2.23 ERA, finest within the Majors, together with 100 strikeouts in 93 innings over 16 outings. The Rays have misplaced solely three video games he’s began. If he stays wholesome — and his latest bout with mid-back tightness was a scare, if nothing else — he’ll be within the AL Cy Younger Award dialog.

Largest shock
Everybody knew the Rays would pitch properly and play good protection, however who predicted this offensive manufacturing? The largest shock has been not solely their energy, however the depth of their lineup.

They’re third within the Majors with 123 residence runs, second with an .802 OPS and second with 451 runs scored. 9 hitters have at the least 9 homers, and 9 hitters personal an OPS+ of at the least 100. Isaac Paredes and Jose Siri have stepped into greater roles, Luke Raley and Josh Lowe have helped stability the lineup, and Harold Ramírez simply retains hitting.

Largest disappointment
Two stand out: the accidents to starters Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen, which instantly examined the rotation’s depth, and the bullpen’s total inconsistent efficiency (with the caveat that the group appears to have stabilized a bit this month).

Each issue into the best way Tampa Bay is more likely to method the Commerce Deadline. Contemplating the place they’re within the standings and their perception that that is doubtlessly a particular workforce, the Rays might be lively of their efforts to enhance their roster within the coming weeks.

Particularly, count on Tampa Bay to be looking out for bullpen upgrades — take into accout Andrew Kittredge will return sooner or later after the break, too — and extra rotation depth. The Rays are arrange properly with the front-line foursome of McClanahan, Glasnow, Eflin and Taj Bradley, however one other dependable starter may assist down the stretch.

Additionally spectacular: The Rays are 34-10 at Tropicana Discipline. They’re 11-1-2 in sequence play at residence and the one workforce with out a three-game residence dropping streak this season. (They’ve misplaced back-to-back residence video games … as soon as, on April 25-26.)

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Printed : 2023-06-27 18:25:17

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