Amidst a large number of injuries, the rays rushed into a watershed

Dave Nelson USA Today Sports

You can be forgiven for giving up rays. Four weeks ago, they lost to the Orioles at Tropicana Field, pushing their record to 58-53 and sending them to fourth in the AL East, a half game behind the O’s, two games behind the Blue Jays, and 12 games behind them. Yankees. Injuries devoured the squad. However, since that point, they’ve been as hot as any team in baseball, even the Braves. What is more, Franco’s walk He is set to return from a two-month absence on Friday, just in time for the rookie team to face the Yankees – now leading the division by just 4.5 games – in the Bronx.

21-year-old Franco tops our list of the 100 best predictions for both 2020 And the ‘21 Before making up a stellar junior season last year, he’s played just 58 games this season, posting a modest 0.260/.308/.396 for a mediocre 104 wRC+. He made it to the injured list on May 31 due to straining his right quadrant and missed most of June, then playing only 13 games before returning to IL on July 10 with a broken right hand bone, which required surgery.

Franco began his rehab period with Triple-A Durham on August 16 but only appeared twice before discomfort in his right wrist forced him out of the match. Later that week, Rays pulled him from the mission due to a prolonged soreness. He finally came back into play on September 4th and went 6 vs 11 with a double over three games. Tampa Scheme He remains with Durham until Saturday, but his 3-for-5 performance as he played nine innings in short order on Wednesday prompted the team to speed up their schedule.

While Franco’s slashed stats fall short of last year’s numbers, his Statcast data in several main categories is practically the same:

Walkthrough Franco Statcast Swiping

season BBE EV The barrel% strong hit% AVG xBA SLG xSLG woopa xwOBA
2021 245 88.2 9.7 4.9% 37.6% .288 .276 .463 .407 .348 .329
2022 204 88.1 6.6 4.4% 37.7% .260 .291 .396 .416 .305 .334

Franco’s average exit rate matches ground hits, hit rates and barrel roughly from year to year, but this year he hits more grounds and fewer volleys (note the lower average launch angle and increase in the ball/volleyball ratio from 1.32 to 1.66). What’s more, it’s only hit 0.88 and .229 to the ground this year, compared to .252 and .306 last year. Where hitting the ball in the air helped him outpace his predicted stats last time around, that wasn’t the case this year, although he still produced WRC+ nine points above the major league mark in short breaks (95). It’s also 39 points higher than the fill Taylor Wallswhich “hit” anemia .176/.267/.282 (65 wRC+) in 408 PA accompanied by Huge difference in his defensive measures In the short term (-0.3 UZR, -4 RAA and 12 DRS). By our yardstick, it’s 0.4 fewer wins than a substitution, but across the baseball reference, it’s worth a 2.3 WAR. Go and conclude.

While the truth about Walls’ value lies somewhere in between, the bigger truth is that the Rays team better with Franco, and they’re bringing him back at a critical time. The team entered Friday after going 19-5 (.792) since August 12, and tied with the Braves for the best record for the major tournaments, and with the best Pythagorean record (.793) in that period as well. In that time, they outnumbered the Orioles (which only took a day) and the Blue Jays, trimmed the Yankees’ regressive AL East advantage to 4.5 games, and took first place in the AL Wild Card race. Here’s a quick glimpse of their changing odds:

Changing the odds of a ray interval

split, rip W The win over% GB Div Farewell Toilet hem W
August 12 58 53 .523 12 0.3% 0.3% 41.7% 41.9% 1.4%
September 9 77 58 .570 4.5 6.2% 6.2% 92.1% 98.3% 4.4%
they change 19 5 .792 -7.5 + 5.9% + 5.9% + 50.4% + 56.4% + 3.0%

The Rays started this race 19-5 by taking the next two games of the Orioles and then two of the three games of the Yankees, although they benefited by playing a fairly smooth schedule after that: four games each against the Royals and Angels, six against The Red Sox, two against the Marlins, and three more against the second-half version of the Yankees, who only went 19-27 as not everyone was named. Aaron Judge Either he stopped hitting, got injured, or both.

While the Rays have done playoffs in each of the past three seasons, winning the AL East title in 2020 and 21, our drop system didn’t like their chances early in the season, predicting them to score 85 wins and a fourth place finish. Finished, with only 8.7% odds of winning AL East and 44.1% to claim the Wild Card spot. A series of injuries has dented those odds, with up to five regulars out at a time and six regulars missing for at least a month. This is a screenshot from the baseball bulletin’ Injury timeline toolto show you how all of these things overlap:

Injuries began to escalate in mid-May, with 1-2 punches Manuel MargoRight hamstring strain and stress reaction in Brandon LoweLower back the former returned after an absence of 10 days, but the latter missed two months. Margot was barely back when Franco landed on Elle for the first time on May 31. Mike Zunino He was first diagnosed with left shoulder inflammation in early June, but his problem was soon identified as thoracic outlet syndrome, and he underwent surgery at the end of the season on July 28. Kevin Kiermayer He developed a sore left thigh on June 21, the same day Margot returned to IL with a strained patellar tendon in his right knee. Kiermayer returned within 10 days, but after nine days came down due to the season, in need of surgery to repair a ruptured hip labrum; Meanwhile, Margot missed two months.

On July 10, the same day Kiermayer returned to IL, So did FrancoAnd, eight days later, he joined them Harold Ramirez, who broke his right thumb when hitting a field and was out for nearly a month. And as if that wasn’t enough, on July 26, Francisco Mejia, who climbed into the depth chart when Zunino was sidelined, went to IL for 10 days due to shoulder impingement. Recently, Lowe missed 10 days due to a right triceps contusion.

These weren’t exactly sagging rays lost for long periods either. Lowe hit 39 homers with 137 wRC+ last year, and while this year’s 112 wRC+ isn’t quite up to the mark, he’s still more than respectable. Likewise for Mejía and his 99 wRC+, 10 points higher than the average catcher’s mark (Zunino, with 43 wRC+, is another matter). Kiermaier hit 91 wRC+, and while his defense has only been strong this year, he was still on track to produce a 2.8 WAR over the course of an entire season (not that he’s played anything close to one since 2015). Margot and Ramírez both placed top careers in wRC+, with 124 marks (.298/.352/.408) and 133 (.298/.352/.408) for the latter.

Like Ben Clemens Wrote After the Kirmeyer-Margot double hit, the rays were built for depth. The above players’ contributions when healthy, the full season performance of Yandy Diaz (145 wRC+), Randy Arosarina (133 wRC +) and Ji Man Choi (110 wRC+, albeit with a long slack in the second half), filling work in utilities Isaac’s walls (120 wRC+ in 16 starts at the start, 29 in the second, and 26 in third) kept the offense afloat. June’s Commercial Acquisition Play Christian Bethancourt (88 wRC +, accompanied by a strong defense at the catcher), picking up the July waiver Yu Chang (120 wRC+ starts at 16 in the second, eight in the short, two in the third), cut the deadline David Peralta And the Joseph Siri (both 110 wRC+) also helped. The team ranks sixth in the AL overall with 105 wRC+ and is tied for third place since breaking the All-Star by 108—and that’s with the patchwork lineup.

Crime did not do it alone. Rays ranks 3rd in the AL in blocking (3.70 times per game), and even with Tyler Glasno Due to Tommy John’s surgery, their rotation has the lowest FIP ​​in the league (3.42) and the second lowest ERA (3.25) thanks to breakout seasons by Shane McClanahan (2.20 ERA, 2.64 FIP and Spot in Cy Young . discussions), Drew Rasmussen (2.70 ERA, 3.32 FIP, Honors the jug of the month for August), and Jeffrey Springs (2.54 ERA, 3.10 FIP). while, Corey Kluber He served as the staff backbone, throwing 141.2 runs, making him second in the team and his highest total since 2018.

Each of these four shooters started between 20 and 24 games, with Rays using another 11 starters (sometimes as an opener) to help reduce turn totals. McClanahan was the only one to throw more than 89 innings between seniors and juniors last year, maxing out at 129 including post-season; He’s 147.1 so far but is currently in IL due to a shoulder impingement, although he may be back soon. In addition, the team a job To protect the shooters by virtually eliminating the number of consecutive starts they made in four rest days, with only four of them (Sean ArmstrongAnd the JT CharguaAnd the Matt Whistler And the Galen Bex) do it at all. They’ve done it a total of 15 times, all while promoting like the opener more than the average beginner, averaging less than two rounds under the conditions and never getting past three times in this vein. As a result, the rays driving majors In the number of times their rookie has worked three or fewer rounds with 33 (the Buccaneers are second with a score of 22), the total of 634 innings they have earned from their starts was the lowest grand tour total.

The injury bug has eaten into the firing squad as well, with nine Rays having spent at least 98 days on the IL so far. non-veteran Shin Buzzwhich ranked eleventh Top 100 predictions for the seasonlimited to 27 rounds due to elbow problems – first surgery to remove loose bodies, then a sprain. Louis Patino Three months were lost due to a tilted strain. Brendan McKay She managed only 15.1 rounds of rehab work between November 2021 surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and end-of-season sprain at UCL.

There is good news in the form of reinforcements. Nick Anderson He is currently rehabilitating towards his first major league appearance since last September after UCL arch surgery. Wednesday, Uni Sherinos made His first appearance in the league In over two years after Tommy John’s surgery and an elbow fracture. On the same day, glasno presented His first appearance in rehab Since undergoing Tommy John’s surgery in August 2021, throwing a goalless inning from 19 pitches, Fast Bowl has been sitting 96-98 mph. His further rehabilitation is aimed at 2023 (and 24, since Occurred for two years, $30.35 million last month) compared to this year, though it’s not out of the question that he’s giving the team some roles.

Add it all together, it’s another impressive season for the Rays, whose depth and clever maneuvers have helped him endure more injuries (a total of 1,711 games missed by IL) and lose more value than any other competitor, according to a baseball prospectus. Accounting. They might not catch the Yankees, but it sure looks like they’ll be there in October to run another post-season.