The Tampa Bay Rays have been playing at a very high level lately, and as a result, they’ve made the race for the AL East extremely interesting with about a month left in the regular season.
The Rays are 18-5 over their last 23 games.
The New York Yankees, meanwhile, have been on a massive slide for quite some time, which has allowed Tampa Bay to make up some serious ground.
As things stand now, the Rays are 4.5 games back of the Yankees for first place in the division.
Tampa Bay is also in great shape in the Wild Card race and seems like a playoff lock for that reason.
However, the Rays can’t let their guard down.
Although things have been going well for them lately, there’s one major factor working against them for the rest of the regular season: their remaining strength of schedule.
Toughest Remaining Schedule In Baseball
For the remainder of the regular season, the Rays will have to deal with the toughest schedule in the majors, per Power Rankings Guru.
The Yankees, on the other hand, have a pretty average schedule the rest of the way.
That certainly gives New York a notable advantage over Tampa Bay in the AL East race over the final month of the regular season, though it’s worth noting that the Yankees have had a hard time beating any type of opponent lately.
When it comes to the Wild Card race, there are three teams the Rays are most focused on holding off: the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles.
Fortunately for Tampa Bay, both Toronto and Baltimore have pretty tricky remaining schedules (ranking fifth and sixth in the majors respectively in terms of difficulty), but the same can’t be said about Seattle.
The Mariners have one of the easiest remaining schedules in baseball.
That could be a concern for the Rays, especially since Seattle and Tampa Bay are in a virtual tie in the Wild Card race at the moment.
Here’s what the race looks like right now, and keep in mind, three teams earn Wild Card spots in each league this season.
- Wild Card spot No. 1: Rays (76-58)
- Wild Card spot No. 2: Mariners (77-59, only trailing Rays by percentage points)
- Wild Card spot No. 3: Blue Jays (75-60)
- First team out: Orioles (72-64)
It’s going to be an interesting battle to monitor as the end of the regular season gets closer and closer.
The Road Ahead For Tampa Bay
While the Rays’ remaining schedule is a bit daunting, they need to focus on what’s directly in front of them and avoid looking ahead.
On Wednesday, they’ll wrap up a series against the Boston Red Sox — a series the Rays are on the verge of sweeping.
After that, Tampa Bay will travel to New York for a big three-game set against the Yankees, which will give the Rays a chance to make a serious dent in their AL East deficit.
But again, that’s a story for later in the week, as the Rays need to take things day by day and focus on the Red Sox right now.