How can Rays pull out of their tailspin?

by Gary Shelton on July 25, 2023

in general

Cash has to find answers./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

The start was historic. The fall has been, too.

The crash to earth by the Tampa Bay Rays has been messy, and dramatic, and painful. It has featured bad pitching and bad hitting and bad, well, everything.

Rarely has a team that was so good been so bad as these Rays, who are now 4-14 in July and sinking like a stone.

Then, there is this:

When you look at it, the Rays are darned lucky to have even won four this month.

They have never been worse, not in the days of Hal McCrae or Ben Grieve or Vinny Castilla. Record aside, they are among those playing the worst baseball in the majors.

You ask: What will it take to pull out of this?

Answer: A miracle.

The Rays have been two teams this season. They were terrific for a long while, and they have been awful for a long while. You can make your guess as to which is the real identity of the Rays. I fear the answer.

Look at the numbers: The team is 31-33 since May 11. That's not a slump. That's a different reality. Of the four games they have won this month, three came on a mini-winning streak.

Players who were hot early have turned ice cold. The team is hitting.208 in July. Run down the roster. Josh Lowe has lost 117 points on his average -- he was hitting ..290 on June 30 and is hitting .163 since.

Harold Ramirez has lost 101 points -- he's down from .295. Wander Franco is down 93, from .285 to .192.

June has been like that. Randy Arozarena is hitting .233. Luke Raley is hitting .220. Manny Margot is hitting .212. Jose Siri is hitting .208. Brandon Lowe is hitting .220.

It goes on: Randy Arozarena is hitting .233 in July, 55 points fewer than he was hitting on June 30. Christian Bethancourt is hitting 53 points for the months less (.167) than he was at the end of June. Taylor Walls is 51 points down (.167) after hitting .218 at the end of June. Luke Raley is 47 points down. hitting .233 in July and .280 before.

Of the Rays' regulars, only Yandy Diaz is hitting better in July than he was beforehand.

Remember all the skeptics who figured this Rays' team wouldn't hit? Maybe they were right.

And the pitching hasn't been great, either. Shane McClanahan has a 6.30 ERA in July. Taj Bradley is 6.87. Reliever Pete Fairbanks took two losses against the Orioles.

The team chases too many balls out of the strike zone. It overswings. It loses its focus on the base paths.

The thing is: The Rays have never been a team to make vast changes at the trade deadline. This team was so good for so long that it's going to be hard to make the number of changes needed.

Seldom has a second-place team been so disappointing.

So here's the question:

Does it get better? Does it get worse?

Maybe, does it get average?

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