The Tampa Bay Rays finally lost their first game of the season. They started 13-0 before losing to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. Nonetheless, their 13-0 start tied the record set by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987.
Normally, the Rays are brushed off as a second-tier contender. However, this year might actually be their year. They’re now down to +850 to win the World Series at BetAnySports.eu after entering the season at +1900. Could this team actually win it all? Here are three reasons why they actually might.
The Rays have been absolutely stellar when it comes to hitting and racking up runs. Throughout 14 games so far this year, the Rays have been able to boast a +68 run differential. They’ve scored a total of 104 runs already in that stretch compared to only 36 allowed. Not only are they winning games, they’ve been crushing their competition.
This team is hitting the ball unbelievably well in this early stretch and dominance like this in the batting lineup will make them a serious threat later in the year when the postseason comes around. Not to mention, Tampa Bay has eight players currently on the roster that have connected on at least three home runs. There are an additional four players that have hit at least one homer on top of that. There’s no shortage of talent in the batting order.
There are three starting pitchers on this roster that have dominated opponents up to this point. Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, and Drew Rasmussen have each pitched over 16.0 innings so far. Combined, they’ve allowed just five runs while striking out 64 batters. These guys have been outstanding.
In the playoffs, teams need a solid trio to go deep and the Rays might have it. Each of the aforementioned three have a WHIP of 1.18 or better. And that doesn’t even take into account Zach Eflin, who was the team’s big offseason signing. This team is loaded with pitching and top-tier talent. We’ll see if they can maintain it.
Hustle, Execution, Management
The Rays have long had to do the little things right just to compete. Now that’s embedded in their nature to the point where it’s part of what makes them elite.
We’ve seen some early examples of this. Earlier in the week, Harold Ramirez was on first base with two outs against the Oakland Athletics. A routine groundball should have got him out at second base but his hustle beat out the throw. Right after, the Rays hit a grand slam to take control of the game.
That’s just one situation that this team is known for. They don’t have cheap at-bats, they’re well managed and they play good defense. They’re sixth in Runs Saved and have committed just four errors as a team this season (tied for fifth-fewest).
According to first baseman Luke Raley, he believes that this team already has good chemistry and they’ll continue to be dominant for that very reason. They play for one another and grind out the hustle plays to make the most of situations. He said, “We all play for each other, and I think that’s what makes this team so good.”
Maybe this is the year the small budget franchise finally wins it all.