At the end of April the Rays record stood at 11-16, fans were hoping for May cheer, but the month brought more misery as the Rays finished the month with a 23-33 record. Ben Zobrist went on IR with a wrist injury and Evan Longoria and Wil Myers continue to struggle at the plate. Longoria is at least showing signs of a breakout, but Myers is going on the 15-day DL with a right wrist problem. At least Alex Cobb returned to help stem the bleeding, he looked sharp on his May 22 start against the Oakland A’s by going 6 2/3 shutout innings. However, consistent with the rest of the team’s performance, Cobb gave up six runs in five innings in his next start against the surging Toronto Blue Jays.
Rays Player of the Month – Platooning in left field against right handed pitching, David DeJesus continues to play well. He hit .325 for the month with nine doubles and four home runs. Acquired last August from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations, DeJesus has been a solid pick up for the Tampa squad. The Nationals traded him away four days after acquiring him from the Chicago Cubs. The Rays signed the 34-year-old to a two year extension in November worth $10.5 million. After his “tryout” at the end of last season, the team decided to bring him back longer. Given his steady production while some of the bigger names continue to struggle, the Rays’ decision to lock down DeJesus for two more years appears to be a wise one.
Rays Pitcher of the Month – Reliever Jake McGee is one of the few bright spots in the beleaguered pitching staff. With 14 appearances covering 13 1/3 innings, McGee garnered one win and gave up zero earned runs. The hard throwing left hander is not much for deception, he generally tries to blow the ball past batters before they can think about swinging. McGee throws his fastball most of the time, he has a slider but the pitch is generally unreliable. Joe Madden traditionally inserts Joel Peralta in the game as the eighth inning setup man and closer Grant Balfour in the ninth. Given the struggles of both Peralta and Balfour, McGee’s role could change.
Perhaps the players named as players of the month are emblematic of the Rays struggles. The best position player for May is a platooning left fielder and the best pitcher is a reliever who is not the closer or even the setup man. The Rays most prominent players all seem to be in the doldrums at once. Given the benches clearing in two different games against the Red Sox, the team still has fire. Fans hoped that the Sean Rodriguez walk off home run on May 22 against the A’s might have been a catalyst for a nice run. The team celebrated like they had locked up a playoff berth. Instead, the rest of May brought more misery for the Tampa Bay Rays.
With Alex Cobb back in the starting rotation and 2B Ben Zobrist returning soon, the Rays hope to climb back to respectability. Sitting at 10 games below .500 at the end of the month, May was miserable for the Tampa Bay Rays. The club hopes that Cobb and David Price can lead the pitching staff and Longoria and Myers can find their swings. If not, then a poor June could lead to a lost season and a team housecleaning via trade.
Commentary by William Costolo