The Tampa Bay Rays are at the midpoint of the 2019 season and its time to take a look at what the Rays accomplished during the first half season.
What went well? What was a disappointment? Who were the surprises on the team?
The Rays are 52-39 after splitting a four game series against the New York Yankees. The Rays got off to a great start in April going 14-4 and were pace to win 110 games early on.
The Rays even led the American League for much of April and May, but the June swoon hit the Rays hard and the Rays find themselves 6.5 games behind the first place Yankees.
The Rays still lead the Cleveland Indians in the wildcard race by a half game and have a one game lead on Oakland.
The Rays have had some surprises this season from the 10-2 record of Charlie Morton, to Tyler Glasnow’s 6-1 start, to the disappointing first half performance of Blake Snell who has an ERA of 4.70 and has given up more runs so far this season than he did all of last season.
The MVP of the first half is without question pitcher Charlie Morton. Morton won his first eight starts before coming back to earth and is 10-2 with a ERA of 2.32. Morton has been the constant in the Rays rotation so far this season as every fifth day you can count on Morton to take the mound and deliver a top notch performance.
Honorable mention would go to Brandon Lowe. Lowe is hitting .276 with 16 home runs and 49 runs batted in and leads the Rays in those two categories. Lowe is currently the front runner for the American League Rookie of the Year and providing he can stay healthy the second half of the season, should be the hands down winner.
The biggest surprises have been the regression of Blake Snell and the surprising start of Tyler Glasnow.
By watching Snell pitch this season you wouldn’t think that this is the defending Cy Young Award winner. Snell has been very good at times this season, but other other times has looked like a rookie from Durham making his first career start.
Snell is 5-7 with a 4.70 ERA and has been wildly inconsistent. Snell seems to have a really good outing where you start to think that he has finally figured it out this season, and then his next outing he is lit up like a Christmas tree.
Snell and manager Kevin Cash say everything is fine with Snell, its just a matter of locating his pitches better, and knowing when to mix in his curve and changeup, and slider with the fastball.
Tyler Glasnow has been the other surprise for the Rays this season. Before the injury, Glasnow was 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA and had been a key piece in the Rays rotation.
Glasnow has been out since the middle of May with a strained forearm and is hoping to be back sometime shortly after the All-Star break.
If the Rays have any hopes of playing baseball into late October, they are going to need a healthy Glasnow and a more consistent Blake Snell.
The biggest disappointment has been the bullpen. We all knew the bullpen was going to be the biggest concern going into the season, but the back end of the pen has really struggled.
Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, Chaz Roe, and Ryne Stanek have all struggled in the closer role.
Castillo 1-6 with a 3.93 ERA, Alvarado 0-5 5.06 ERA, Roe 0-3 with a 5.27 ERA. This not championship baseball and this type of performance will not win you a lot of games going forward.
It doesn’t seem to matter who the Rays put in that spot, no one has been able to be successful.
This week, the Rays have used Alvarado, Stanek, Pagan, and Chaz Roe and not one of them has be able to shut the door. They have all allowed game trying or game winning home runs.
Pagan did get the save on Sunday against the Yankees for his fifth save of the season.
The front office has to do make some moves if they want the Rays to stay in the race and be competitive in the second half of the season.
Fixing the bullpen has to be the number one priority followed by acquiring another bat. Someone that can get the clutch hit when you need it.
If Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, or Tommy Pham are not tearing the cover off the ball, you never know what you will get from the rest of the team. The offense is just as unpredictable as the bullpen on some nights.
It promises to be an exciting second half of the season as the Rays will play 31 games the rest of July and August against teams with a sub .500 record. A chance for the Rays to gain some ground on the Yankees in the American League East and separate themselves from the other playoff contenders in the American League.