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(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

The Rays Have Their Sights on the Playoffs Through the Fourth of July

With the 2022 MLB season in full swing and headed towards the All-Star break, the Tampa Bay Rays (45-37) currently sit in second place in the AL East, and first place in the AL Wildcard race. Playing in the toughest division in baseball is hard, but the Rays have kept up strong play throughout the season to get them to where they sit now, as they come off a series win against their divisional rival Red Sox.

What to be Excited About

The Rays have had a solid season as a whole, but what has really set them apart from other teams this season has been their pitching. The Rays have a 3.29 overall team ERA, which is the fourth-best in the MLB only behind the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros. A big reason for the Rays’ success this season has been LHP Shane McClanahan, who currently holds a 1.74 ERA, second in the league only to Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers with a 1.54 ERA. McClanahan also has 133 Strikeouts on the season, second only to Corbin Burnes of the Brewers with 134. McClanahan is in a position to earn the starting role for the AL in the All-Star game later this month.

On the batting end of the ball, the Rays have a lot to be proud of. 3B Yandy Diaz has been on a hot batting streak in his past 10 games with a .474/.556/.632 split. Diaz leads the Rays this season with a .295 BA and a .412 OBP. 2B Isaac Paredes leads the team in HR with 13 and LF Randy Arozarena has been reliable for the Rays as he leads the team with 79 hits and 39 RBIs. Other notable hitters for the Rays this season include SS Wander Franco, DH Harold Ramirez, 1B Ji-Man Choi and RF Manuel Margot.

What Needs to be Improved?

Injuries. An unfortunate variable that happens in all sports has been plaguing the Rays all season. Tampa Bay won 100 games in the 2021 season on their way to winning the AL East, but injuries have kept them from a similar track. Injuries to pitchers and catchers this season have been a cause for alarm as skepticism surrounding the Bull Pen as well as Catcher Depth has arisen. The Rays will need to look at improving these positions in the second half of the season if they want to make a playoff push.

Base running has also been a serious issue for the Rays this season. Players have been too aggressive running the bases which has led them to record the most outs on base this season. For Tampa Bay to make a push for the playoffs, they need to improve on their sloppy base running and stop giving up valuable outs.

Rays Outlook

With ten games left before the All-Star break, Tampa Bay will look to build upon their series win against the Boston Red Sox. There is more good than bad from the Rays this season and they are sitting in a solid position entering the break. As long as they can stay healthy and fix some minor mistakes, the Rays can be dangerous to make a run at the playoffs and even the World Series at the end of the season.

About Jack Alperstein

Jack Alperstein is currently a sophomore at the University of Florida studying Sports Journalism.

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