The Tampa Bay Rays (44-53) are going to have to go on a tear with only 65 games remaining in the season. The Rays will have to go 46-19 to get to 90 wins this year. The Rays are 9 1/2 games back of the Baltimore Orioles (52-42) in the American League East. The Rays will now head to Minnesota to face off against the Twins (44-50) on Friday night for a three-game weekend series. As the All Star Break comes to an end Tampa Bay has won 11 of their past 15 games but rumors around the dealing of David Price still swirl around. Without David Price the Rays will not able to make it to the postseason and most fans realize this. This is going to be a tough decision for Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon. This is not an easy decision to make on trading the ace of their staff. The Rays must decide if they believe they can hang around until the end with the trade deadline coming to a close. The St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners and a few other teams are also in the hunt for David Price. Tampa Bay has a very high asking price for their ace and the Rays very well should want multiple top prospects in return. If Friedman and the front office really think the Rays can make an incredible run then they may just keep him around. The Rays will most likely wait until the last week of July to make a decision of whether they can stay in this playoff race. Tampa is going to have to be the best team in baseball for the remainder of the season as they must basically win every series in August and September. The good news for the Rays is they still have a lot of games left in the division to catch ground but everyone is going to have to step up.
The Rays won their final series before the break against the Toronto Blue Jays (49-47). Price continued to amaze on the mound on Sunday as he won the series for Tampa Bay. David Price is now the league leader in strikeouts. The St. Louis Cardinals have plenty of young prospects that could intrigue Andrew Friedman into a trade before the trade deadline on July 31st. This seems to be the best fit for both teams. Nobody wants to see David Price go but fans have to be realistic with this team. The bullpen blows leads, the offense is inconsistent and the defense just hasn't been there. This is going to have to be a team effort with some much needed good fortune as well. The Rays are (22-25) on the road compared to (22-28) at Tropicana Field and both of these numbers are going to have to improve dramatically. This has just been an average baseball team and there needs to be a fire lit under their ass when they start playing on Friday in Minnesota.
The starting pitching staff has been coming around nicely. Jake Odorrizi has been able to continue to put out solid performances on the hill. Jeremy Hellickson pitched well with his one start but was sent back down for a couple more minor league starts before he will return to the big leagues. Erik Bedard was also sent down to the bullpen for help in long relief. Alex Cobb and Chris Archer still have their best performances in front of them this season. Jake McGee did get scrubbed from the All Star game but he should be able to claim the closer role as this season rolls on.
Kevin Kiermaier has given the Rays a much needed lift with his energy. He continues to show hustle and pepper the ball all over the field while batting over .300 with eight bombs. Evan Longoria leads the team with only 11 homers with twice as many at bats as he is having a down year. Ben Zobrist also continues to be in trade rumors as many teams could need a player of his caliber down the stretch. James Loney is second on the team in average while Sean Rodriguez is second on the team in homers with nine.
Alex Cobb will take the mound on Friday followed by David Price on Saturday and Chris Archer on Sunday. The American League won the All Star game so if the Rays can somehow sneak into the postseason things will look good for game seven of the World Series at home. If the Rays want to make history this would be a great time to do so. The Rays have gone 20-11 since June 11th which is the best within the division but now they are going to have to be the best team in baseball with only 65 games remaining. This team can’t let off the gas for even one moment The Rays are going to need some sweeps, big hits and some luck to make this run into the postseason. Time will tell very soon with the Twins, Cardinals (52-44), Red Sox (43-52) and the Brewers (53-43) as the Rays end July. If the Rays could come away with winning each series then the trading of David Price may just come to a halt.