Kevin Kiermaier Could Guide Tampa Bay Rays Through Rough Patch

By Steve Ungrey
Kevin Kiermaier Rays
Kim Klement — USA TODAY Sports

An injury to highly-touted Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Wil Myers spelled disaster from the get-go for the team’s loyal fans.

Myers is expected to miss up to eight weeks while he recovers from a wrist injury. Myers’ loss would hurt the team under normal circumstances, but it came in the middle of an otherwise disappointing season for the Rays.

This loss will hurt, but Kevin Kiermaier may be the equivalent of a bandage on a deep cut. It will stop the bleeding and allow the Rays to heal a little bit at a time.

Kiermaier has been up at stretches this season to spell injured players in the lineup, and 14 of his 15 hits have come since the start of regular duty on May 31. The team had intended to split Kiermaier and Ben Zobrist in right field, but the reality is Zobrist plays well enough at second base to merit Kiermaier staying in right full time.

This has not been the best of seasons for the Rays. The bad news started with Matt Moore and his injured elbow back in April and it continued through injuries to other players, including Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb. That’s three-fifths of the Rays’ pitching staff on the shelf at different times of the season.

Combine that with less-than-stellar hitting performances by reliable bats in the lineup and it’s no surprise the Rays are off to their worst start in almost 10 years.

That’s why it is important Kiermaier keep up his pace or at least keep the seat warm as Myers recovers. If Kiermaier can hit at a .300 clip in the time he spends on the roster, it will help to soothe the burn caused by Myers’ unfortunate injury.

If Kiermaier slides, then the Rays have an issue to deal with that will be hard to ignore. The Rays were supposed to be the AL East darlings once again. They are the example of how to get things done on a shoestring budget. Every year the team has a low payroll, it always seems to win.

This is the year the luck appears to have run out, although lack of quality pitching has more to do with this than anything else.

Kiermaier is off to a solid start in his second season. This is his first real stretch of active duty, but time may prove Kiermaier is someone to keep around Tropicana Field.

Steve Ungrey is a St. Louis Cardinals writer for Follow him on Twitter (@steveungrey), like him on Facebook and add him on Google.

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