After a stellar week in which the Rays lost just one game, the Tampa Bay Rays won all but one game for a second week in a row. With another strong week, the Rays extended their AL East lead to four games at most. However, there was some disappointing news during the week.
The Rays continue to be plagued by injuries to the pitching staff. Just this week, both Chaz Roe and Jalen Beeks were sent to the 60-day IL, ending their seasons. The team also lost Mike Zunino for at least 10 days. With the trade deadline looming, the Rays decided to make a few trades in the leadup to the trade freeze.
This week, the Rays made a trio of deals that look like they’re just leading to a bigger one on Monday. They started by sending shortstop prospect Lucius Fox to the Royals for a plus defensive outfielder in Brett Phillips. They then sent pitching prospect Riley O’Brien to Cincinnati to shore up the bullpen. The Rays acquired Cody Reed from the Reds. Finally, Tampa Bay opened a roster spot by sending Jose Martinez to the Cubs for two PTBNL or cash.
While the Cody Reed trade looks like a definitive win-now trade, both of the other trades look like the Rays are gearing up to make a splash. Phillips gives the Rays flexibility with their outfielders, as he can play any position and is nearly as good defensively as Kevin Kiermaier. Sending Martinez away opens up an active roster spot that could be taken up by a pitcher or catcher.
The Last Week
The week did not get off to a hot start. After taking two of three from the Blue Jays, the Rays squandered a good start by Blake Snell. He struck out nine over five innings, and only allowed two runs. Blue Jays win 6-4.
After wasting a good starting pitching performance, the Rays wouldn’t, or should I say couldn’t waste the opportunity Tyler Glasnow gave on Tuesday. Glasnow mowed through the Baltimore Orioles, striking out 13 (!!) batters. Rays win 4-2.
Wednesday’s game against the Orioles went slightly differently. On more of a bullpen day, the Rays offense got the win on a late homer by catcher Michael Perez. Rays win 4-3.
In solidarity with other professional teams in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Rays and Orioles did not play their game Thursday.
Friday was both Jackie Robinson Day and the Tampa Bay Rays opening the Citrus Series in Miami. The Rays again got great starting pitching, this time from Ryan Yarbrough. The Rays got another shutout of the Marlins, winning 2-0.
Two in a row? Two in a row! The Rays shut out the Marlins again, this time on the back of rookie Josh Fleming, who tossed another 5.1 scoreless frames. Rays win 4-0.
Sunday’s finale was nothing like the two low scoring games prior. Even though the Rays got a solid start from Snell, the bats had to come to life. And come to life they did. The Rays tacked on 7 runs in the 5th inning on route to a 12-7 win.
AL East Standings
Tampa Bay Rays: 23-11 NY Yankees: 19-13 Toronto Blue Jays: 18-14 Baltimore Orioles: 14-19 Boston Red Sox: 12-22
Batter of the Week
.333/.417/.524, 7 H, 2 SB
This week didn’t feature many standout batting performances by the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, the team got solid, consistent contributions from the bottom of the order. Namely, from Manuel Margot.
Margot got off to a slow start to the season but has improved greatly. This past week, Margot got on base often and used those opportunities well, stealing two bases.
Pitcher of the Week
5.1 IP, 1 W, 0.00 ERA, 6 K, 0.87 WHIP
As good as Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell were this week, this could’ve gone to any of them. However, I want to give some recognition to Fleming.
The rookie southpaw came in as an unknown variable. Instead of floundering in a sprint of a season, he stepped in and dealt right away. He looks like he could be a mainstay on this Rays’ staff even after the group recovers from injury.
The Week Ahead
The coming week could be a make or break moment for the Rays. The trade deadline is Monday, and the Rays look to be making a move for a pitcher and/or a catcher. The Rays have been linked to Christian Vazquez of the Boston Red Sox. I would look out for the Rays to move for either a strong reliever or a strong starter, but not both.
While I have no doubts that the team is headed to the postseason, a three-game set at Yankee Stadium could shift the momentum of the season.
The Rays start the week with an extremely important series against the Yankees. These three games make up the last meeting between the two ball clubs before the end of the regular season.
The Rays get a day off to travel back to Tropicana Field. They close the week with another series against the Miami Marlins, and another chance to rack up all-important wins.
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