What if I told you that the Rays currently have the longest winning streak in MLB? A 7 game winning streak going for 8. That a win today and they will sweep the best team in baseball the Boston Red Sox? That the Rays have a Rookie of the Year candidate in Joey Wendle? A Cy Young candidate in Blake Snell? A manager of the year Candidate in Kevin Cash?
This season is turning into the season of surprises for the Tampa Bay Rays. All of the analysts, and yes I am including everyone thought the Rays would not even sniff .500 let alone be 7 games above .500 the last week of August.
Let’s start with the Manager Kevin Cash. I don’t think anyone could have done a better job managing these young players than Kevin Cash. A lot of it has been trial and error, but Cash has managed to push the right buttons most of the time.
Take the “opener“ philosophy. When Cash said that he was going to use a reliever to pitch an inning or two to open the game and then turn it over to a guy who could pitch a little longer, Cash was scorned and ridiculed. Well the laughter has stopped after teams are seeing the success the Rays have had with that philosophy, and some teams are even giving it a try themselves at the minor league level to see how it will work for them.
The Rays were forced to use this strategy due to the amount of injuries and the off-season trades that decimated the starting pitching staff.
Cash has also been patient with the amount of rookies on the roster and let them play through their mistakes without fear of being sent back to the minors. Not that he really has a choice, but for the first time in a few years the nucleus of this Rays team that ends the season will be the one that is back too begin the 2019 season.
Why Blake Snell is not being give more serious consideration for the Cy Young award is mind boggling. Snell is 15-5 with a 2.07 ERA and is on pace to win 20 games. He is also holding opponents to a .172 batting average and has given up just 32 earned runs which leads all pitchers that are currently in contention for the Cy Young award.
Snell‘s main competition is Justin Verlander of Houston and Cory Kluber of the Indians.
Joey Wendle is having a nice season in his rookie season with the Rays. Although Wendle is a bit older and has had a cup of coffee with some other teams, this is his first chance at getting playing time on a consistent basis. Wendle is taking advantage of that and is currently hitting .291 with 7 HR’s and 46 RBI’s.
Wendle‘s main competition will come from Glaybor Torres the rookie 2B for the Yankees and the Yankees 3B Miguel Andujar. The front runner is the the two way player for the Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani who got off to a great start, but his pitching game has been shut down for the rest of the season and he will be the DH the rest of season for the Angels.
It’s been a surprising and fun season of Rays baseball so far. The future looks bright and the Rays are going to be competitive sooner rather than later.