An ounce of run prevention is worth a ton of wins.
Though their players don’t make a lot of “Benjamins” by MLB standards, that has been the key to another amazing season for the underpaid and unappreciated Rays, in town for a huge three-game series against the Yankees that begins Monday night.
It’s not just that the Rays’ pitching staff is among the best in the American League. Bettors should know it’s off the charts in a few key categories:
Tampa Bay has allowed the fewest home runs of AL staffs by a mile. And, that has been true all season. We’re in a “juiced ball” era (more about aerodynamics than injections) which has gopher balls clearing fences at a record pace. The Rays have figured out how to keep opponents in the park. Few others have.
Tampa Bay, along with Houston, is allowing a minuscule batting average compared to the rest of the league. So, it’s not just home runs. Opponents aren’t making meaningful contact very often. When they do, the balls are gobbled up by excellent fielders.
Tampa Bay’s starting pitchers have an ERA nearly half a run lower than any other team in the league … and about one and a half runs lower than league average. Many critics have blasted the franchise for its use of “openers” in the rotation. That strategy may now be an evolutionary tick that’s going to revolutionize the game. (Note that the Rays’ bullpen is among the best in the league even though those guys throw more innings in relief of openers. This strategy doesn’t “kill the bullpen” as some pundits predicted.)
Though it’s not off the charts as in those categories listed above, Tampa Bay is also among the league leaders in fewest walks allowed.