The wild card standings in the American League have a new team at the top. The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the hottest teams in baseball and are now holding the top Wild Card slot. Winners of four straight games, the Rays also passed the New York Yankees in the AL East standings, taking over second place.

At 49-43 on the season, the Rays have definitely been one of the surprises this year. In what many baseball analysts called an improved AL East, the Rays have emerged as one of the better teams. While the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays struggle to string wins together, the Rays have won seven of their last 10 games.

Can the Tampa Bay Rays win the division?

Entering play on Sunday (July 16), the Tampa Bay Rays are within two-and-a-half games of the first place Boston Red Sox. While the Red Sox have a doubleheader against the Yankees, the Rays will be playing against the Los Angeles Angels a bit later in the day. If everything goes right, the Rays could be within one game of first place in the division. That would certainly be a remarkable end to the weekend for the franchise.

Suddenly the Tampa Bay Rays have gone from potential sellers at the deadline to definitive buyers as the team is within striking distance of the division leader. There weren’t many baseball analysts that predicted the Rays would be this close to first place as the MLB trade deadline approaches, but that is exactly where the team resides with less than half of the season left to play.

Are the Rays good enough to win a playoff series?

Getting to the postseason is one issue, but the secondary question is whether or not the Rays can win a playoff series. The pitching staff has improved, the offense is getting more consistent, and the bullpen might rank among the best in baseball. Having Brad Boxberger back has added even more depth, shortening the game for the team once the starting pitcher has left the mound.

Anchored by closer Alex Colome, this is a team that poses a serious threat if they can sneak into the 2017 MLB Playoffs.

There are other teams like the Seattle Mariners that will try to steal one of the Wild Card spots and the New York Yankees are going to be tough to beat out for one of those playoff spots. It’s definitely going to be a test for the Rays to emerge from the American League East, but the team is playing like it really wants to see the postseason again. With All-Star pitcher Chris Archer leading the way, the Tampa Bay Rays could remain near the top of the Wild Card Standings for the rest of the year.