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FiveThirtyEight project Rays to .500 season in 2017

We all know that unreasonable level of excitement you’re so used to feeling near Opening Day. The Rays are playing their final Spring Training game as I type these words, the season is so close you can smell the artificial turf.

And just when you could probably use a splash of cold water to quell your unreasonable expectations for 2017, FiveThirtyEight offers this:

A .500 finish, and a two-coin-flip chance at making the playoffs this season.

The overall story here is that the Rays look to be close to a wild card projection, but just fall short in the expected outcomes. With the 538 machine pegging Boston, Cleveland, and Houston with the top win-rate in their divisions, the Rays would have to get past four of Seattle, Toronto, Texas, Detroit, and New York to make the playoffs.

Given the state of the bullpen, with both set up men Brad Boxberger and Shawn Tolleson being injured, just missing the playoffs shouldn’t be a surprise, but it does show the Rays could be in contention, with just five wins separating the five teams looking for a wild card slot.

FiveThirtyEight's MLB forecast uses a pitcher-adjusted Elo model to project the winner of every game and the chances that each team will win the World Series.

This forecast is based on 100,000 simulations of the season and accounts for starting pitchers, travel distance and rest. It updates after each game.

You can read their full methodology here.