With all of the injuries hitting the Yankees — not to mention the physical aches and emotional pains that fans are suffering just from watching Aaron Hicks — it’s a wonder that no pinstriped player has gone on the injured list with a neck sprain … from looking up at the Tampa Bay Rays.
But while some are wondering whether the Rays are Secretariat, former general manager Jim Bowden believes they’re more like a pace horse who will come back to the field. In The Athletic, he says the Rays’ quick start are one of the MLB early-season things he doesn’t believe in:
Let me start by saying this: The Rays are a playoff team. But I’m going to tell you not to believe their dominant start and not to believe they will lead the majors in home runs by season’s end. (They have hit 48 homers, tops in the league.) That said, they’re a great team, and appear capable of going all the way come October, but I believe they will have to fend off the Blue Jays and Yankees in what should be a close race in the AL East.
Keep in mind that 18 of their first 21 games were against the Tigers, Nationals, A’s, Red Sox, Reds and White Sox. Entering their current series with the Astros (which they’ve split one game apiece thus far), the only team they faced with a winning record was the Blue Jays, and they lost two of three. Let’s circle the date of May 28 because that’s when we should have a better sense of how good this team really is. The Rays’ May schedule is much harder than their April slate: They’ll play the Yankees seven times, the Mets three times, the Brewers three times, the Blue Jays four times and the Dodgers three times. They’ll also play the Pirates (16-8) three games and the Orioles (15-8) three games. I think that tough run will bring them back to reality.
So, Yankees fan, don’t fret that six-game deficit. Eventually, the long and difficult grind of a major-league schedule (not to mention the competitive AL East) will fix that, Bowden says.