The Tampa Bay Rays are currently have a record of 74-78 in 2017. They have played 152 games, which means they have 10 games left to go.
Currently, the Rays are four games back in the race for the second Wild Card with five teams ahead of them. Fangraphs and MLB.com both peg the Rays with less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs... but that means there is still a chance.
The Minnesota Twins are currently in possession of the second Wild Card spot with the opposite record of the Rays at 78-74. Behind the Twins are the Angles (1.5 GB), Rangers (2.5 GB), Royals (3.5 GB), Mariners (4 GB), and then the Rays (4 GB). Teams with a 0.5 GB have an eleventh game yet to play.
Looking at the schedule ahead, the Rays play the Baltimore Orioles seven times, a team that has been reeling as of late. The Rays will mix in a three game set with the New York Yankees as well.
For the Rays to miraculously surge to a playoff spot, there are at least seven scenarios where Tampa Bay can match the Twins win-loss record and still qualify for the second Wild Card.
The simplest math: If the Rays win all ten of their remaining games, the Minnesota Twins would have to drop at least five of their remaining 10 games for the Rays to be ahead in the standings. The Twins will take on the lowly Detroit Tigers for seven of those contest and the play the Cleveland Indians for the other three.
But that doesn’t take into consideration the rest of the competition for the Wild Card spot. In order for the Rays to pass the Twins, they’d also have to pass the other four teams in their way.
The Angels have four games coming up against the respective division winners of the AL Central and West, so they could hit a road block. Then they take on the Mariners, in what should be a hotly contested Wild Card matchup.
The Rangers get the Oakland Athletics for seven games, but also have three against the Astros and a remaining game against the Mariners.
The Royals have one remaining game against the Blue Jays, a makeup game with the Yankees, and then three game game series left with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Angels.
Then you have the Mariners who will play a game against the Rangers, then move onto series with the Indians, Athletics, and Angels.
So, the perfect storm in order for the Rays to make the playoffs is complicated. The easiest way to digest the information is to see what records would result in a six-way tie for the final Wild Card Slot:
To read the table, use the Twins record as a point of reference for a tie in the standings. If teams do worse, they move farther right on the grid and out of the tie.
For instance, if the Rays only win eight games of the ten remaining, they would need every team to have a W/L record above them or in a column to the right on the table for the Rays to qualify for the post season.
So, yes! There is still a possibility that the Rays could make the playoffs. But, realistically, every game is now must win and the Rays will have to play much better than they have thus far during the month of September.