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Locked on Rays: Magic number getting smaller

10 Tampa Bay sports director Evan Closky joins the Locked on Rays team to discuss what the Rays rotation should look like entering the postseason
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays' Yandy Diaz celebrates after hitting a home run agains the Detroit Tigers' during the fifth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rays Postseason Magic Number at 7

After an arduous nine-game road trip going 4-5, the Tampa Bay Rays returned to Tropicana Field wiping away those negative vibes beating Detroit, 5-2. Former Florida standout Mike Zunino smashes his 31st home run of the season while Yandy Díaz added a solo jack, as well. The one negative from this contest was Nelson Cruz leaving early after getting beaned in the first inning. Kevin Cash said after the game all tests came back negative and he will most likely have the day off on Friday.

Despite the recent struggles, the Rays are still 20-9 in their last 29 games and 38-19 since the All-Star break.

Tampa Bay cannot clinch a playoff spot in the final three games against Detroit. So, we will have to wait until next week to have fun.

Wander Franco Update

Having Wander Franco back for the postseason is of the utmost importance. The 20-year-old phenom is nursing a 39-game on-base streak and hitting .285. You know, it was not so long ago when Franco was hitting below .200. It is impressive to see how quickly he turned it around.

Franco spoke with the media on Thursday via team translator Manny Navarro saying he feels great. He is starting to hit and run. The shortstop is eligible to come off the IL next week, but Cash is a skeptic he will return immediately. Having said that, there is optimism he will return before the regular season ends.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
Tampa Bay Rays' Wander Franco bats against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 22, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

What will the Rays do with the postseason rotation?

This is where you will want to listen to Friday's Locked on Rays podcast episode. Former USF star Shane McClanahan, who is currently on the IL, will almost certainly be in the rotation. Beyond that, nothing is certain. Evan Closky suggests riding the hot hand of Drew Rasmussen, one of the pieces in that Willy Adames trade.

The Spokane native has been one of the best starting pitchers for the Rays since August and just blanked the Blue Jays, the hottest team in Major League Baseball. 

Luis Patiño and Michael Wacha could always share a game, while Ryan Yarbrough has really struggled to prove he can be trusted in that big of a spot. Last year, Tampa Bay went to the World Series with Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton. This year, it is completely up for grabs. Even though this team might win 100 games, it is tough not to be nervous about what will happen in October.