Tampa Bay Rays 4-6
Many people picked to win the American League pennant were the Tampa Bay Rays. The stellar pitching staff along with a manager that knows how to manipulate the lineup to out think opposing clubs, they are a sabermetric dream of a squad. All was looking good after taking three of four from the defending NL East Champs the Atlanta Braves. Then they took a trip to Baltimore. The Orioles swept the hapless Rays holding their lineup to just eight runs over a three game stretch.
Looking deeper into the numbers, if not for an explosion of offense (14 runs) in the fourth game of the season the Rays bats have been relatively silent. As a team the Rays are hitting just .213 with an OPS under 700. Individually other than Brandon Lowe (OPS 1.032) and Willy Adames (OPS .919) the rest of the lineup has underperformed.
Charlie Morton and Blake Snell have been less than impressive in their combined starts. Morton most notably losing a little zip on the fast ball. The depth of the pitching staff has kept them relevant and will continue to keep them relevant. Tyler Glasnow has stepped up and shown glimpses of number one starter potential. The bullpen still has ridiculous talent that can pick up the slack of a struggling top of the rotation.
The Rays have to get more consistency up and down the lineup. Jose Martinez has been given more at bats lately and has shown the ability that made him a target in the offseason for the Rays. The key for the lineup though is finding more power. Hunter Renfroe has blasted a few but they still need more feared power hitters in order to be a serious threat for the Yankees in the east and the rest of the American League.
Verdict: Not worried
Texas Rangers 2-5
The Rangers intrigued me entering the 2020 season. With wholesale changes made to the starting rotation they seemed to have fixed a problem in 2019. With Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles and Corey Kluber at the top of the rotation along with a powerful offense the Rangers should be ready to take the next step from rebuilding club to potential playoff contender. That hasn’t been the case through the first seven games of the season.
It has been the offense that has looked sluggish out of the gate. In fact it doesn’t seem like they even left the gate. Choo, Andrus, Frazier, Santana, Odor and Calhoun were all guys that were supposed to be carrying the load offensively and it has not happened. With Danny Santana now hitting the injured list this team is looking for a spark that just isn’t there.
With the expansion of the playoffs I had the Rangers pencilled in as one of the last spots but in a very crowded AL West they have a hell of a mountain to climb.
Verdict: Very worried
New York Mets 3-7
New York was looking to compete even without Noah Syndergaard in 2020. A revamped bullpen and a lineup featuring 2019 rookie of the year Pete Alonso looked like the beginning of what could be a very successful season.
The lineup has generated a lot of production. Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and JD Davis have all produced above the anticipated level. As a team they have a .342 OBP, the problem hasn’t been getting people on base; it’s been driving them in. They are hitting just .228 with runners on and an OPS of .666. The Met’s have multiple proven run producers that have been unable to come up with the big hits.
The Mets have gotten great contributions from their rotation, Offseason signing Michael Wachs and rookie David Peterson have both shown glimpses of what they can do in the regular season.
Edwin Diaz’s continued struggles are very worrisome but the depth of the Mets bullpen should be able to bounce back. The question of whether you believe that the bats will come around or not. I believe that the power they have up and down the lineup will eventually come through.
Verdict: Not worried
Arizona Diamondbacks 3-7
I was one of the people that thought Arizona was going to be taking major steps in the right direction in 2020. The addition of former All-Stars Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte to an already developing potential powerhouse seemed like a great fit. Their start to the season has not shown the results.
The bats have been silent. As a team they are hitting just .192 with a slugging percentage at just .265. The struggles are throughout the lineup, other than Christian Walker, Starling Marte and Ketel Marte no player on the Diamondbacks has an OPS over .630.
The complete lack of offense has not been helped out by the pitching staff. The D-Backs have a team ERA 5.44, highlighted by the struggles of starters Luke Weaver and Robbie Ray. Ray’s command most notably has led to crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
The Diamondbacks have a lot of questions followed by very few answers. They will need Ketel Marte and Starling Marte to lead their offense until Eduardo Escobar, David Peralta and company can figure out a way to return to the form of 2019. This team is in some serious trouble.