We have talked a lot recently about how the Rays have underperformed their Pythagorean Record* and some of the reasons why.
Most recently we showed both the offense and the pitching were taking a step back late in close games, whereas last season both aspects stepped up their game in those clutch situations.
Now we may have the answer…
As of June 9th (prior to facing the Nationals) the Rays had played the toughest schedule in baseball based on Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projection system.
We have often cited the Rays strong bullpen as a reason the Rays outperformed their Pythagorean Record in 2008. This season the Rays have faced the toughest schedule so far. And one thing most good teams have in a common, is a strong bullpen. So in essence the Rays are getting some of their own medicine early in the season.
But there is hope. Over the remaining portion of the regular season, the Rays have the second biggest drop-off in strength of schedule.
This is a long-winded way of saying that the schedule favors the the Rays improving their record up to and possibly beyond their Pythagorean (expected) win total. And this bodes very well for the Rays run to a second straight playoff appearance.*Pythagorean Record is a formula that calculates how many wins a team should have based on their runs scored and runs allowed.
Prospectus Hit and Run [Baseball Prospectus]