Will the Rays level off during the summer?

by Gary Shelton on June 3, 2023

in general

Can Cash keep his team winning?/TIM WIRT

Saturday, ,4 a.m.

The first third of the season has been a stunning success. The Tampa Bay Rays have walked with history, and they have qcontrolled a competitive AL East, and they will have their fingerprints all over the All-Star game.

Ah, but as the season turns to June, it's proving-time all over again.

Here come the old questions, the ones that never go away. Can the Rays win another 39 games out of the next 54? Will their injuries catch up to them. Will more opposing pitchers make them look feeble?

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And so on.

Look, I'm convinced. This Rays' team is a lot better than I suspected it would be. You know all those questions about whether this team could hit? They might have started on my keyboard.

I never saw these guys coming. Hey, I've been wrong a lot in my career, but I've never been more wrong than I was about this team.

So, yeah, these Rays have established that they're a pretty good team. And they'll still be a pretty good team for most of the season.

But can Shane McClanahan win another eight games?

Can Yandy Diaz stay in the top five in hitting?

Can Randy Arozarena remain among the top RBI men in the league?

Even given the fast start, it's doubtful all of those guys can keep it up. It's doubtful the Rays can withstand the weariness of their patched-together bullpen. Will the losses of Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen catch up to Tampa Bay?

Can Josh Lowe keep his average around .300 with 11 more home runs?

Can Jose Siri hit enough to get another nine homers?

Can Wander Franco steal another 20 bases?

It's hard to predict, because a lot of these players have never done it before. Josh Lowe is a blossoming major league player. Luke Raley has shown considerable pop. This team runs well , and it it hits the ball hard on most nights.

But it's a frightening division. If it weren't for the Rays, the Orioles would be the talk of the sport. The Yankees and Blue Jays are out there. Boston doesn't go away.

If you're reasonable, you probably anticipate some measure of leveling off by the Rays. The slumps are going to be more frequent. The bullpen looks leaky at times.

Still, this team will be good. Few teams have a top three like McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow and Zach Eflin. The speed won't slump. The defense should be good.

Maybe it's just me, but I think the Rays stay in the race through the summer months. Oh, I don't know if they'll lead wire-to-wire, but they'll be in the chase.

And isn't that the fun part of the game?

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