Tampa Bay Rays Would Benefit Most from Potential Wild Card Expansion

Jamal WilburgCorrespondent IFebruary 29, 2012

ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his bottom of the twelveth inning walk off home run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays would be the biggest winners if Major League Baseball agrees to expand the postseason from eight to 10 teams. According to Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports, the announcement should come as early as Thursday.

When you look at how the team is set up with elite starting pitching and excellent defense, they are the ideal team for a one-game, first-round playoff game if needed.

Look back at last season when the Wild Card came down to Game 162. If multiple teams are fighting for the final postseason position, they cannot afford to coast during the last month of the season and rest starters or pitchers. By the time the first round comes around, having a rested rotation would be essential to a team looking to advance.

This is where the Rays have the upper hand. With their stable of arms, they could finish their final regular season series with David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson on the mound and still have Matt Moore available to start in the playoffs.

Although this season is the exception, normally the Rays aren't the favorite team to win the AL East. With expansion, if the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were to return to dominance they could still qualify for the postseason finishing third in the division.

I am not saying that the Rays will be the third team in 2012, as it seems at this point early in spring training that the Red Sox are the most likely to finish third in the division. However, it is only logical that the Rays' run of dominance with minimal payroll can only last so long.

At least increasing the opportunity to make the postseason can keep hope alive for the Rays.