You may feel that the Tampa Bay Rays have been stuck in neutral after beginning the season hot out of the gate. After starting 14-4 the Rays have gone 12-11 and are sitting at 26-15.
The good news is the Rays still sit atop the American League East standings with a 0.5 game lead over the New York Yankees and 4.0 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox.
Series against the Kansas City Royals that ended up 4-3 and the Baltimore Orioles that ended up 3-2 have left a sour taste in the mouth of Rays fans after the blistering start.
But that hot start put the team in the position they wanted to be as we head into the season’s second quarter.
FanGraphs has the Rays with a 73.0% chance of making the playoffs. Baseball Prospectus has the Rays odds at 83.3%. Baseball Reference came out with playoff projections last week and have the Rays chances at 89.8%. In contrast, their pre-season odds of making the playoffs were put at 25-33%.
The Rays have played well and now they are having to deal with some adversity with Tyler Glasnow going on the injured list along with seemingly every catcher the Rays have on their 40 man roster.
The Yankees and Red Sox aren’t going to just roll over and give the division to the Rays. The American League East is sure to be hotly contested. It currently looks to be a three way race with different systems predicting different outcomes.
Median outcomes in win totals is very unlikely to be enough for any of the three teams.
Head to head games are going to be very important as the season plays out. That will shine a spotlight on the upcoming series at Yankee Stadium where the Rays seek to avenge their series loss at the Trop last weekend.