mid-April view of the Tampa Bay Rays

AL BEast Notebook – April 15

Tampa Bay is off to a terrible start. After Monday afternoon’s loss in Boston the Rays are sitting in the bottom of the AL East at 4-8.
My biggest concern with the Rays is here front and center: they just can’t hit!
- Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist are doing pretty well at the plate, but they are getting no help. Batters 5 through 9 in the order, plus #2 (that’s two thirds of the lineup!) are hitting a paltry .169.
- As a team they have hit just four home runs in twelve games. Before Longoria’s homer in Monday’s game they had gone over six games without bopping one out.
- Rays are just 1 for their last 28 with runners in scoring position.
- Tampa has scored AL-worst 35 runs (2.9/game)
And they haven’t been facing amazing pitchers in pitchers’ ballparks: Fenway Park and the Ballpark in Arlington, and the Indians and Orioles at home. They simply can’t hit.
Where is Wil Myers when you need him?
The Rays have been victimized by some poor officiating. One of the games against the Rangers ended on an egregious called third strike that should have loaded the bases for Longoria, and today in Boston Longoria was incorrectly called out at first on a play that should have brought home a run in the sixth. Both games were lost by one run.
- The biggest strength of the Rays is David Price. That has not been an advantage, as the team is 0-3 in his starts.
- Matt Moore has been a bright spot. He has not given up a run yet in his two games and has two wins. However, a high pitch count has prevented him from pitching past the sixth inning.
- The bullpen has a 5.22 ERA.
- Roberto Hernandez won the #5 starter job but he has been poor, holding a 6.08 ERA and allowing 21 base runners in 13.1 innings. Unfortunately, the pitcher he was selected over, Jeff Niemann, had shoulder surgery and will miss the whole season. If Hernandez continues to struggle, the Rays will have to bring up Chris Archer, who made four starts in the majors last year.
Due up: Three series: @Baltimore, Athletics and Yankees, followed by a 10-game road trip.