Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tampa Bay Rays 2018 season preview



        In a surprising but rebuilding season, the Tampa Bay Rays finished 3rd in the AL East with an 80-82 record, missing the playoffs. With decisions to make on franchise players Chris Archer and Evan Longoria, the Rays had some moves to make in 2018. Let's take a look at their offseason.

       Notable additions: 1B C.J. Cron, LHP Anthony Banda, RHP Dan Hudson, OF Denard Span, OF Carlos Gomez, U Rob Refsnyder, 3B Christian Arroyo, 2B Joey Wendle, RHP Dustin McGowan, RHP Evan Scribner, LHP Vidal Nuno.

       Notable subtractions: 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Logan Morrison, LF Corey Dickerson, RF Steven Souza Jr., RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Brad Boxberger, 1B Lucas Duda, OF Peter Bourjos, OF Colby Rasmus, C Derek Norris, RHPs Tommy Hunter, Steve Cishek.

       What they did well: They got a really good deal on Longoria, receiving back Arroyo and Span in a package.

       What they did bad: Souza, Morrison, Dickerson, Odorizzi, Duda and Boxberger for Nick Solak, Banda, Jermaine Palacios, Tristan Gray and Hudson. Boo!!!!

       Sneaky sleeper: Though he played in just half the season, Mallex Smith left a pretty good impact on the Rays, hitting .270, and swiping 16 bags. With Dickerson and Souza out of the picture, Smith will get his big shot in 2018.

       Incoming outbreak: Oh wait, Smith again. Okay, I won't be lazy. It's Jake Faria. When manager Kevin Cash announced the Rays would go with a 4-man rotation, with Matt Andriese going to the pen, he all but confirmed Faria's presence in the opening day rotation. Faria, 24, had a 3.43 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 86.2 innings in his first career season, 2017. Expect bigger things from Faria moving on.

       Unsuspected slump: The reason Denard Span was in the Longoria trade? The Giants didn't want him anymore, and were happy to dump him off to Tampa. Span hasn't stolen 20 bases since 2014, or hit .300 in a full season since then. Though his power numbers are spiking, Span wasn't the same player he has always been in San Fransisco.

       Blue-chip Bopper: With Longoria out of town, that will go to Wilson Ramos. Ramos is one of baseball's most underrated catchers, hitting 11 bombs in less than half a year. It's not great but it's the best they have.

       Astounding ace: They have a horrible offense, but Chris Archer is still around. One of baseball's top pitchers, Archer had another rough year, finishing with a 4.07 ERA. But, his 3.63 ERA in his career is very good. Archer is still a star.

       Here's their projected lineup.

 LF Mallex Smith (L)
 CF Kevin Kiermaier (L)
 C Wilson Ramos (R)
 3B Matt Duffy (R)
 2B Brad Miller (L)
 1B C.J. Cron (R)
 DH Denard Span (L)
 RF Carlos Gomez (R)
 SS Adeiny Hechavarria (R)

            Here's their rotation.

 RHP Chris Archer
 RHP Jake Faria
 LHP Blake Snell
 RHP Nathan Eovaldi


  Alex Colome (R) is their closer, with Matt Andriese (R), Sergio Romo (R), Jose Alvarado (L), Yonny Chirinos (R), Andrew Kittredge (R) and Dan Hudson (R) in the bullpen.

  C Jesus Sucre (R), INF Daniel Robertson (R), 2B Joey Wendle (L) and U Rob Refsnyder (R) are on the bench.

  Finally, for my prediction, I think the Rays, a bad team, will miss the playoffs in 2018.uj

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