The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the surprise teams so far this season in MLB. The Rays are 49-47 as they begin the second half of the season against the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
There is no one that thought the Rays would have the record that they have right now. How have the Rays excelled and played so well with such a young roster? Credit Kevin Cash. He has done an excellant job motivating this team and pushing the right buttons at the right time. In my opinion Cash in the first half MVP while Pitching coach Kyle Snyder is a close second.
There is still a lack of respect around the country for this ball club as evidenced by the fact that Blake Snell was not named to the All-Star team. Snell is on track to be a 20 game winner for the Rays, the first since David Price in 2012. Snell has been the anchor of the staff all season long and look for that to continue in the second half of the season.
The Kevin Cash strategy of using a relief pitcher as an “opener” has worked better than we all thought. Since the Rays have deployed this strategy the team has the best ERA in MLB. Ryne Stanek, Diego Castillo, and Ryan Yarborough have been key players for the Rays in the success of this strategy.
Nathan Eovaldi and his return to the starting role has been a pleasant surprise. Eovaldi is still working on finding his consistency as he has one good outing and then one that’s not so good. He could be one of the players that are traded by the Rays before the trade deadline as the youth movement continues.
Offensively, CJ Cron has been a pleasant surprise. We always knew he had a litttle bit of a pop in his bat, but I didn’t think he would be leading the Rays in home runs at the halfway point of the season. Cron is very streaky though, and has his hot and cold spells.
Wilson Ramos is another player that looks to have rebounded from his knee surgery and his having one of his best seasons offensively. Give Ramos a lot of credit as well for the way he has handled the Rays pitching staff. A lot of times the role of the catcher is underrated when talking about the overall success of the pitching staff.
Unfortunately Ramos days are numbered here in Tampa and will be traded in a few weeks. Even though he was just played on the 10 day DL, that shouldn’t slow teams down from inquiring about his services.
The rookies that have had to learn at the MLB level, have played well all things considering. Jake Bauers is the 1B of the future, Christian Arroyo should be a fixture in the infield. Joey Wendle and Daniel Robertson are keepers and should be here for years to come.
Will the Rays continue to play the exciting brand of baseball we have seen in the first half? Or will we see the Rays team take a down ward spiral? The Rays have proven to be a resilient bunch all year. They have been a streaky team having a lot of ups and downs the first half of the season.
My haunch is that the Rays will continue to play competitive baseball. Kevin Cash will continue to push the right buttons, and the Rays will finish with a record above.500 for the first time Since the 2013 season.