The Rays have 40 games left this season as I sit here and cover the game tonight against King Felix and the Mariners. Since the wildcard came into play, 94 wins have been needed to reach the post-season and the Rays currently sit ten games above .500 at 66-56. To get to 94 wins, the Rays will have to win 28 of their next 40 games, which is .700 baseball. Since going 1-8 to start the season, the Rays have gone 65-47, which is .575 baseball. Can they play .700 baseball?
In 2008, the Rays went 28-12 for four different spans of the season:
- 4/19 to 6/1
- 5/23 to 7/6
- 7/18 to 8/30
- 7/19 to 8/31
In 2009, they never had a stretch that successful, but in 2010, they had three such stretches that all came early in the season.
- 4/8 to 5/21
- 4/13 to 5/26
- 4/14 to 5/27
The other side of this equation is the Red Sox have to play .462 baseball and go 18-21 in their final 39 games. In 2008, Boston never played a stretch of baseball that poorly. In 2009, they played .462 baseball twice: from 6/25 to 8/9 and again from 7/3 to 8/16. Last season, despite a depleted roster down the stretch, the Red Sox played .462 baseball just once and that was from 8/19 until the end of the season.
If you believe the Red Sox are going to win the division and are more concerned with the Yankees, the Rays would need them to go 18-22 (.450) to finish the season while the Rays go 28-12. In 2008, the Yankees played that poorly from early April to mid May, again from the end of July to mid-September, and lastly from 7/31 to 9/13. Since then, they have not had a stretch where they've played below .500 baseball.
When you see Baseball Prospectus and their PECOTA system give the Rays a 0.7% chance of making the post-season and CoolStandings.com showing the Rays with a 2.8% chance at making the post-season, this is why. The Rays have played .700 baseball for stretches in their recent history, but the 2011 has not had a run that successful over a 40 game stretch. Even if this team does do that, they still need a lot of help requiring the Red Sox and Yankees to play at a rate they have rarely done in recent seasons and have yet to play at this season.