After a promising start to the season, taking two out of three from the Miami Marlins, the Rays traveled to Boston, where they were slapped back to reality, getting swept in a three-game series by the Boston Red Sox.
What has gone wrong for the Rays? The big issue is the bullpen. The bullpen has been pounded in four straight games, and there is little reason for optimism on the horizon.
It doesn’t matter who the Rays have brought in top pitch; Chris Mazza, Ryan Thompson, Chaz Roe, and Ryan Sherriff. They have all struggled to slow down the opposing team’s offense when called upon.
Diego Castillo and Pete Fairbanks, who have pitched in the late innings, have been ok, although Castillo was roughed up his last time out.
The Rays have a team 5.87 ERA, with the high-powered New York Yankees offense coming to town.
In addition to the bullpen, Kevin Cash said another reason for the team’s frustrating start to the season is not getting the big hit with runners in scoring position and the need to play better defense.
“This is a good team. They’ve got a good mindset.” Cash said. “They’re frustrated. We’re all frustrated right now. We just haven’t performed to our capabilities. We understand that it is a long season, but we’d certainly like to start looking a little better than we have.”
The Rays have also gotten off to a slow start offensively, hitting .208 with just five home runs through the first six games.
During the Rays four-game losing streak, they have been out-scored 38-12. The Rays pitchers have given up five home runs while walking 12.
Tyler Glasnow has been the lone bright spot for the Rays this season. Glasnow has 15 strikeouts in 12 innings of work with a 0.87 ERA.
Rich Hill will start the home opener for the Rays on Friday afternoon, while Chris Archer will start on Saturday.
Hill talked about his upcoming start on Friday and the sense of urgency that the Rays need to have early in the season.
“I don’t buy into that as an answer, that it’s early in the season. These games count just as much as they would in September. The time is always in the present, and it’s very pressing as far as making things count today.”
“I’ve seen in the past how you could be nine games up in September and not make the playoffs. Maybe if things were different in April, you don’t have those kinds of conversations. You realize how important every single game is. It matters.”
And that is the backdrop as the Rays have opened up the season with a 2-4 record. The Rays open up a seven-game homestand Friday afternoon against the Yankees and the Texas Rangers.
If the Rays are to start putting wins together, they must be better offensively, and the bullpen has to hold the lead.
It’s way too early to push the panic button, but the trends from the first six games are alarming.
The Injuries are also starting to mount for the Rays. Pitcher Chaz Roe is on the DL with a shoulder injury and is expected to be out until July 15th. Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier was placed on the DL with a quad injury. Kiermaier is expected to return at the end of April.
—The Rays will be allowing fans at Tropicana Field for the first time since the 2019 season.
Masks will be required, no bags will be allowed, and approximately 9,000 fans will be allowed into Tropicana field. The Rays will also open the upper deck this season to allow for a socially distanced environment.