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Tampa Bay Rays news and links: Face ya Ace

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The Rays face a wild run of starters this week

MLB: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing weekend split in Baltimore, the Rays ended their highly-winnable 21-game stretch going 13-8. That’s probably a little worse than they would have liked, and when combined with Oakland not just surviving, but thriving, in one of their toughest stretches of the remaining calendar, it makes the road to the postseason a little more challenging.

However, all is not lost. The Rays playoff odds remain strong: Baseball Prospectus (71.4%) and FanGraphs (62.4%) have the Rays are well above 50-50 favorites to make the playoffs, with Baseball-Reference (46.1%) having them slightly below 50-50.

Part of what makes B-Ref’s odds a little lower for Tampa Bay is that the Rays are done with the fluffy part of the schedule, and on to the meat and bones. The next five pitchers they face are, in order: Verlander, Cole, Greinke, Clevinger, Bieber. Four of the five rank in the top ten in all of baseball this season in fWAR, and the only one that doesn’t (Clevinger) is only not there because he hasn’t thrown the innings for a cumulative stat like fWAR — his FIP and xFIP are actually both the best of the bunch.

The Rays will counter with Charlie Morton on Tuesday and Yarbs on Wednesday (those should be some amazing games, by the way), but after that it gets a bit sketchy these days. Getting three out of six would be great, but maybe more importantly, winning that Cleveland series will be huge for the Wild Card crunch.

We’re set up for quite the playoff race. Try to enjoy it instead of stressing over it. Easier said than done, of course.

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