The American League’s East Division is considered to be the most competetive in the league. It’s the only division that features five teams with winning records, and five teams with positive run differentials. The AL East also features the Tampa Bay Rays, so any team looking to climb the division ladder (including the New York Yankees) will have quite the chore ahead of them.
The Tampa Bay Rays exploded out of the gate this season, setting all kinds of records, hitting a bunch of dingers and really just shocking everyone. They are only really now just starting to slow down a little, going to 16-12 through the month of May, but still hold a five-win advantage over the next best team, the Texas Rangers. The Rays were still in the top five during this past month in all the important offensive categories that we all love — home runs, runs scored, OBP, and stuff like that. However, my favorite stat is that over the last 30 days, the Tampa Bay Rays have 52 stolen bases, and the next best team is Arizona with 28. The Rays are out here running around like a Little League team, and I love it. Wander Franco leads the team with 20 steals on the year, had 14 in May alone, including an obscene seven since May 24.
Tampa has dealt with some pretty devastating injuries this year and just keep rolling anyway. Jeffery Springs is out for the year, Drew Rasmussen is going to be out for most of the year, Zach Eflin and Tyler Glasnow have both been on the IL and Pete Fairbanks can’t seem to stay healthy. They just throw the next guy out there and keep winning. It’s pretty impressive to see these guys with 40 wins on June 1 as they’re on pace for one of the greatest seasons in MLB history. Shane McClanahan has been awesome this year and, as May ended, it looks like he really settled into a groove, going 3-1 on the month, he struck out 40 batters across six starts, while Zach Eflin was 4-1 in May, with Tampa picking up five wins in his six appearances.
If you wanted to point to one possible weakness on this club, you could point out that their bullpen ranks 22nd in ERA, 30th in strikeouts per nine, and is otherwise pretty average across the board. The injury to Fairbanks isn’t going to help matters there, but Jason Adams has stepped into that closer role and did save 7 games during May, but he also blew two saves, lost a game, and allowed eight earned runs on 12 hits across just 13 innings.