Exactly one year ago, August 8th 2011, the Tampa Bay Rays sat way back in the playoff race, a distant 10 games out of the Wild Card spot, playing solid yet uninspiring, baseball with a .522 win percentage. They finished a mind-boggling 32-17 (.653 win %) to pass Boston on the memorable final day of the season to win the Wild Card. This year’s Tampa Bay team is 57-52 (.523 win %) entering play today, while exhibiting the same good pitch/bad hit tendencies from a year ago. The Rays have also been missing quite a few key bats due to injury this season. Luckily the most important one of those injured hitters, Evan Longoria, is returning to action tonight, and could provide just the spark Tampa Bay needs to come out ahead of a crowded American League Wild Card field that features 7 teams jostling for 2 spots.
Another day, another wave of injuries. Such has been life for Major League Baseball this season. Three All-Star players, Jose Bautista, Joey Votto, and David Ortiz went down yesterday, and their injuries only further cloud what has become a murky playoff picture in the NL Central and AL Wild Card races. Let’s take a look at the options Cincinnati, Toronto, and Boston have in replacing a sizable amount of production in their respective lineups.