Frank Franklin II/Related Press
For the third time in franchise historical past, the Tampa Bay Rays are American League East champions.
The Rays clinched a division title due to their 8-5 victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday.
Getting into the 2020 season, the East was shaping as much as be a two-horse race between Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees. The Yankees gained the division by seven video games in 2019, and the second-place Rays completed 12 video games up on the third-place Boston Pink Sox.
The Pink Sox signaled their priorities for 2020 after they traded David Worth and Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, in the meantime, have been nonetheless beneath the extent essential to contend for an AL East crown.
For the Rays, a first-place end will not carry the identical sort of advantages it normally would due to quite a lot of circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic means home-field benefit would not depend for as a lot with out followers in stadiums. Playoff enlargement additionally presents an additional spherical for groups to navigate. Tampa Bay is projected to match up with the eighth-seeded Blue Jays within the wild-card collection.
The Rays can go four-deep with their beginning rotation (Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Ryan Yarbrough and Charlie Morton) earlier than turning issues over to 1 MLB’s greatest bullpens.
Their relievers entered Wednesday collectively fourth in ERA (3.44) and FIP (3.66), per FanGraphs. In addition they threw the second-most innings (251.1), which highlights what number of strong choices supervisor Kevin Money has at his disposal.
Pitching depth will doubtless show much more invaluable this postseason, and it is an space during which the Rays excel.
Relying on how far the Rays advance this October, it might be an enormous sports activities 12 months for the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. The Tampa Bay Lightning are within the Stanley Cup Closing towards the Dallas Stars, whereas the Tampa Bay Buccaneers set their sights on a Tremendous Bowl after signing Tom Brady.