The Tampa Bay Rays are right where they want to be sitting atop the American League East with a 21-11 record with a three-game lead on the New York Yankees.
That is pretty remarkable, considering the Rays pitching staff has been decimated by injuries. Colin Poche, Yonny Chirinos, Jalen Beeks, and Andrew Kittredge are all out for the season.
Charlie Morton, who pitched in two games is still on the DL. Morton was placed on the 10 DL and was due to be activated on August 20th.
Nick Anderson, Chaz Roe, Oliver Drake, and Jose Alvarado are all on the DL with injuries.
Brenden Mckay and prospect Brent Honeywell were placed on the season-ending IR before the season began.
Kevin Cash and the Rays have had to put a patchwork pitching staff together every week. To the Rays credit, they keep finding these guys that are ready to pitch at The big-league level.
Raise your hand if you were familiar with Ryan Sheriff, Sean Gilmartin, Aaron Slegers, and Josh Fleming before this season.
With Morton and Chirino sidelined, Fleming made his big league debut last weekend against the Blue Jays and helped the Rays to a 5-4 win.
The Rays have used 24 pitchers this season if you include the one inning of work by utility man Michael Brosseau.
The Rays have a team 3.85 ERA, and Kevin Cash has seemed to push the right buttons every night in leading this team to first place in the division.
The season is half over, and the Rays will have to get some of these guys back healthy if they have any hopes of making a deep playoff run.
Charlie Morton should be back soon. Keep in mind, that you only need three starters for the playoffs. Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow would be two of those starters right now with Ryan Yarbrough in line to be the third starter.
Even with Nick Anderson healthy, the Rays have used a closer by a committee by approach. The Rays have used 10 pitchers to close games, led by Nick Anderson with three saves.
When you think that only one starter has gone more than six innings in a start, that being Tyler Glasnow, it is even more amazing that the Rays are leading the division.
We knew the Rays had pitching depth. But this season has been a season unlike any other.
What an improbable ending to the season it would be if the Rays can finish strong down the stretch and make a World Series run.
That would be a nice bow to put on the 2020 season. One that wouldn’t soon be forgotten.