Tampa Bay Rays Need to Get Pitching Back on Track

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Coming into the 2013 season, the scouting report on the Tampa Bay Rays read something like this: “Going to need their pitching to carry their subpar offense if they want to make a serious run.” 

Well, here we are 51 games in and the Rays offense has been great, their pitching has been bad, and their bullpen (aka Fernando Rodney) has been brutal.

The Rays offense has not only been better than expected, but it has been the 5th best in the majors averaging over 4.8 runs per game. Which is due in large part to Kelly Johnson (10 HR and 33 RBI) and James Loney (.325 with only 19 strikeouts in 163 AB’s).

Meanwhile, what was expected to be possibly the best rotation in the AL has been very disappointing (minus Matt Moore and Alex Cobb). Reigning AL CY Young Award winner David Price has been off his game and injured, while Hellickson and Hernandez have really struggled.

Lastly, Fernando Rodney, the supposed “anchor” of this bullpen has already given up twice as many runs as last year and is currently boasting a sparkling 5.75 ERA. As a whole, the bullpen is 2nd worst, behind only the Houston Astros.

What does all this mean? Well, a Rays fan would tell you that since the offense is doing so much better than expected, this team will really take off when their pitching gets healthy and starts living up to its potential.

On the other hand, an argument could be made that the Rays offense is certain to come back down to earth quite a bit very soon, and that combined with an underachieving pitching staff, will lead to serious struggles.

Personally, I will stick to my preseason prediction and say that I think the Rays will get their pitching back on track (contingent almost solely on Rodney and Price) and at least make a run in the wide open AL East. 

Could easily be just the opposite though.

Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson