When I made my preseason predictions, I picked the Tampa Bay Rays to represent the American League in the World Series. Admittedly, I picked Tampa just to be different, especially since I picked the New York Yankees to win the division. Things started off great for the Rays, but Evan Longoria got hurt on a slide during an early-May contest, costing the MVP candidate most of the 2012 season. However, Longoria is back, and the Rays are baseball’s hottest team.
In the past thirty days, the Rays are an AL-best 20-8, bringing them within 2.5 games of the vaunted Yankees. Certainly, the return of Longoria has some impact for the Rays’ turnaround. But their pitching staff is putting up numbers one would put up in MLB: The Show if the settings were on beginner. In those thirty days, the Rays’ pitching staff has an 1.89 team ERA. ONE! EIGHTY! NINE!
I have never seen a pitching staff collectively put forth that effort. Alex Cobb - who has a record of 4-1 during this stretch – is the only pitcher that has an ERA over 3 and it stands at 3.18. Matt Moore remembered he is the best pitching prospect in the game, sporting a 4-0 record of his own with an 1.16 ERA. Jeremey Hellickson continues to be the bizzaro Ricky Nolasco by outpitching his sabermetric peripherals. And David Price and James Shields are well… David Price and James Shields.
Price is probably the clubhouse leader for the Cy Young award right now, a Cy Young race that has five extremely qualified candidates. To top of the Rays’ incredible pitching staff is Fernando Rodney, who is proving that the small sample size of a reliever’s season can do wonders. Rodney has a .77 ERA. That’s right. He isn’t even close to having a 1.00 ERA.
The Tampa Bay Rays are proving exactly why they have realistic World Series aspirations and their pitching staff is the main reason why.