Fatal flaw: Every MLB contender has a weak spot

Jun 13, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) reacts as he talks to New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) on the mound during the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) reacts as he talks to New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) on the mound during the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Michael Wacha.  Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Wacha.  Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have become famous – and borderline notorious – for their inventive use of a pitching staff.

So it is perhaps a bit ironic that of all the MLB postseason contenders, it is the Rays with the shakiest rotation. That looms as their fatal flaw.

The loss of Tyler Glasnow certainly hurt. Without him, the load has fallen on a succession of guys trying to make it. The veterans are Michael Wacha (5.16) and Ryan Yarbrough (4.38), neither a candidate to fill a leadership role. Yet with Shane McClanahan, a 24-year-old rookie, they are identified as the team’s aces.

The reality is that – having recently traded Rich Hill — the Rays don’t have any starter they can count on. The sum WAA of all Tampa Bay starters this year is -1.6, a number that ranks 22nd among the 30 MLB teams. Only one other contender’s rotation (the Padres) is even fractionally negative in WAA.

The first question is whether Rays management even recognizes the lack of quality starting pitching as a problem. They did, after all, just a few days ago trade a starter (Hill) for nobody of value to the team’s 2021 situation.

If the Rays don’t survive very deep into the postseason, it’s likely that the team’s thin rotation will be the reason.