2019 MLB Power Rankings: Postseason Edition

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 01: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates after throwing a no hitter at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 01, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 01: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates after throwing a no hitter at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 01, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 21: Nate Lowe #35 of the Tampa Bay Rays gets a water cooler bath after a 2-run walk-off against the Boston Red Sox in the eleventh inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on September 21, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 21: Nate Lowe #35 of the Tampa Bay Rays gets a water cooler bath after a 2-run walk-off against the Boston Red Sox in the eleventh inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on September 21, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

MLB Power Rankings: Postseason Edition

7. Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays have secured a playoff birth for the first time since 2013. In a division where both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox won over 100 games in 2018, the Rays somewhat quietly won 90 games. However, they gained national attention for Kevin Cash’s invention of the “opener” strategy, which was unsuccessfully utilized by the A’s in the 2018 AL WIld Card game. In 2019, will face the same foe in the 2019 AL Wild Card game.

Many thought the Rays were bound for a rebuild after they traded away Evan Longoria in the beginning of the 2018 season. However, the Rays’ front office made some sneakily great moves to propel their team back to the playoffs. They dealt longtime ace Chris Archer to the Pirates at the deadline for Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz. That deal turned out to be incredible for the Rays, as Meadows and Glasnow have become a promising young duo in 2019.

Meadows has been the Rays’ best offensive player this season. He earned his first All Star appearance after a productive first half. On the season, he has slashed .291/.364/.558 with 33 home runs and 89 RBIs. The 24-year-old slugger with anchor a young, yet talented lineup.

The Rays also acquired outfielder Tommy Pham from the Cardinals at the 2018 trade deadline. Pham was incredible for the Rays in the second of half of 2018, hitting .331 with 8 home runs and 28 RBIs. He has put up another productive season for the Rays, and looks to become a key contributor in a potential postseason run.

In the offseason, the Rays reloaded an already good roster. Most notably, they acquired former Houston Astro Charlie Morton to their largest free agent in franchise history. Fortunately, Morton has been everything they paid for and more. Following a 2018 campaign where he earned his first All Star game appearance, Morton has continued to be one of the best starting pitchers in the American League. He pitched to a 16-6 record with a 3.05 ERA, 2.82 FIP, and an American League-leading 0.7 home runs per nine innings.

Morton will start for the Rays in the Wild Card game, after Blake Snell has failed to follow up with his 2018 Cy Young performance in 2019. Regardless, the Rays have a formidable 1-2 punch with Morton and Snell, with breakout starters Yonny Chirinos, Ryan Yarborough and Tyler Glasnow giving them solid options deep in a playoff series.

While the Rays have fielded a good lineup and starting rotation, their biggest strength by far is their bullpen. They have the lowest bullpen ERA at 3.62. While they don’t have a dominant closer, their depth is what makes them so good. Oliver Drake, Diego Castillo, Chaz Roe, and Emilio Pagan have all been effective, and their bullpen goes much deeper that. Kevin Cash’s ability to properly deploy all his weapons has gotten the Rays to where they are now.

The Rays got off a scorching hot start in 2019, and they never looked back. They started off the season an AL-best 19-11 through the first two months of the season. While they could not keep up with the Yankees in the AL East, the Rays have put together a scrappy young team with a dominant bullpen that can surprise a lot of people in October.