Rays 2020 season preview

The Tampa Bay Rays are the darlings of the media in this shortened 60 game season.

The Rays seem to be the sexy pick to make it to the World Series, and some are even picking the Rays to win their ever first-ever championship.

Three of the six Sports Illustrated writers are picking the Rays to not only make the fall classic but win the whole thing.

Tom Verducci is picking the Rays to take down the Dodgers in 7 games. Verducci is thinking that the Rays and the Dodgers had the best pitching in baseball last season. Add in the fact that the Rays also have a roster that has good depth, and Verducci thinks that could be the difference-maker in this shortened season.

Conner Grossman has the Rays beating last years World Series Champs the Washington Nationals in five games.

Michael Shapiro has the Dodger beating the Rays in five games. Shapiro thinks that this Rays team is very equal talent-wise to the
2008 Rays. Shapiro also thinks the Rays will be a tough out in the playoffs with their big three of Morton, Snell, and Glasnow in the starting rotation.

The two toughest pitching staffs to hit last year belonged to the Dodgers and Rays.

The Rays made it to the 2008 World Series before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

The Rays are coming off their second-best season in franchise history. A season in which the Rays took the AL champion Houston Astros to five games in the ALDS.

It was amazing the Rays were able to win 96 games last season considering that three of their key players’ pitcher Blake Snell, pitcher Tyler Glasnow, and outfielder Austin Meadows all missed time with significant injuries.

The Rays were sixth offensively hitting .254 in the AL last season, while the pitching led the league with a 3.65 ERA.

Austin Meadows led the Rays with 33 home runs and drove in 89 runs.

Charlie Morton was the best player on the Rays last season as answered the bell every time he was called on.

Morton finished third in the Cy Young award voting. Morton went 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA with 240 strikeouts.

Tyler Glasnow

Tyler Glasnow started 7-0 and had an ERA under two when he came down with the arm injury in May and had to be shut down.

The Rays will begin the season with a 30 man roster and manager Kevin Cash said that the Rays will go with 16 pitchers to begin the season with 14 position players.

Austin Meadows will not be ready to go by opening day, so that means Yoshi Tsutsugo most likely will hold the leadoff spot till Meadows get back.

Michel Perez and Mike Zunino are back behind the player. The Rays added Kevan Smith as a bit of insurance back in the spring. Highly touted prospect Ronaldo Hernandez is number four on the depth chart at catcher.

Smith will make the team as the Rays will go with three catchers to start the season.

The Rays have almost everyone back from the infield last season. Yandy Diaz will get the nod at third, with Wily Adames starting at shortstop.

Brandon Lowe will handle second, while Ji-Man Choi will be back at first. The Rays have plenty of depth in Joey Wendle, Brandon Lowe, and Jose Martinez.

The outfield is set as well. Newcomer Hunter Renfroe who hit 33 home runs in the national league will start in right field. Kevin Kiermaier in center. Manuel Margot will play in left until Meadows is ready to play.

Margot is versatile as he can also spell Kiermaier in center. Yoshi Tsutsugo who was signed in the off-season from the Japanese League will be the DH on most nights.

The starting rotation is one of the best in baseball with Morton, Yarbrough, Snell, Glasnow, and Chirinos.

The bullpen is solid as well and ranks as one of the best in all of baseball. The Rays need to decide on a closer, and that should go to Nick Anderson who was about as dominating as any pitcher could be last season.

Diego Castillo, Jose Alvarado, and Chaz Roe may also close on occasion, But Anderson should get the job full time.

Last year’s closer Emilio Pagan was traded to San Diego in the off-season, but the Rays have plenty of depth to fill his bullpen start.

Jalen Beeks, Andrew Kittredge, Aaron Loup, and Pete Fairbanks, along with newcomer Ryan Thompson will also make the initial 30 man roster.

Colin Poche

Colin Poche will miss the season as he will need to have surgery to repair his UCL. Poche will be missed as he averaged 12 strikeouts and three walks per nine innings last season.

The Rays think they have found another diamond in the rough in sidewinder Ryan Thompson.

Thompson was picked up in the 2018 rule five draft from the Houston Astros.

Thompson was invited to camp as a non-roster player and impressed the Rays with his fastball and slider and will make his MLB debut this season.

Thompson threw eight scoreless innings during summer camp. Thompson was 1-1- with a 2.70 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 23 innings at Port Charlotte and Montgomery last season.

The Rays are built for long term success, not just for this shortened season. The Rays have the number one farm system in all of baseball, but not many of those prospects will see time in Tampa save for an injury or two.

Cash indicated that pitchers Shane McClanahan and Shane Baz could both see some time this season. The Rays were very impressed with their limited work in the intrasquad games that they worked in.

The Rays had to have the 30 man roster finalized by noon today. Daniel Robertson, Randy Arozarena, Brendan McKay, and Anthony Banda did not make the final roster.

Infielder Mike Brosseau and pitcher Trevor Richards did make the final roster.

Austin Meadows and Colin Poche were placed on the injured list.

Here are my picks for the division winners.

Tampa, Minnesota, and Houston will be the division winner in the AL with the Yankees getting the wildcard spot.

Atlanta, Chicago, LA Dodgers win divisions in the NL. Washington gets the wild card spot.

The Rays and the Dodgers will meet in the World Series and all that playoff experience will finally pay off for the Dodgers as they will beat the Rays in six games to win the 2020 World Series.

—MLB and the players association were negotiating
to expand the playoffs from 10 to 16 teams.

That was part of the original proposal back in June when negotiations were ongoing to resume the season.

—The Rays will open the season with a six game home stand against  Toronto and Atlanta.