Tampa Bay Rays: Team preview and prediction for 2020 season

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 25: Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Minnesota Twins on June 25, 2019 at the Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 9-4. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 25: Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Minnesota Twins on June 25, 2019 at the Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 9-4. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Tampa Bay Rays: 2020 Preview, Predictions

The Depth and the Rotation

What the Tampa Bay Rays have this year that they didn’t last year is a lot of depth. They have a ton of guys who can play multiple positions all around the diamond. They even brought in Manuel Margot to potentially take Kevin Kiermaier‘s center field position, and Kiermaier is even a three-time Gold Glove winner.

Willy Adames is also on the bubble this year at shortstop with the number one prospect, Wander Franco, lurking in the Minors to take his spot as early as next year.

They brought in Jose Martinez from St. Louis as a great clubhouse guy who brings a lot of energy coming off the bench, and they have a slew of utility players like Michael Brosseau, Daniel Robertson, and Joey Wendle to throw around the diamond as well as a two-way player in Brendan McKay who could also be their number five starter as well as yet another big left-handed bat in the lineup on his non-starting days.

The Rays are going to be innovative on the offensive side of the ball this year as opposed to in their bullpen game like they’ve been doing the past couple of years. Their pitching is strong enough where they can throw it directly at teams as opposed to playing the trickery bullpen game they’ve mastered under Kevin Cash. Watch for them to play a bunch of different guys in various positions and for Cash to tweak the lineup on a daily.

As far as their pitching is concerned, I believe they have one of the best rotations in baseball right now and one of the best bullpens that is on the rise to becoming the best; and that’s even with them trading away their closer from last year, Emilio Pagan.

Blake Snell followed by Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow is about as good as you can get in the top three of your rotation. Snell is a little banged up right now, but he battled through a tough post-Cy Young season in 2019 where he got batted around a bit to the tune of an inflated 4.29 ERA. He had velocity, command, and health issues in 2019 as well, but I believe he is going to come out and rebound in 2020 with a Rays team that’s now confident they can get to a World Series.

Charlie Morton has the best curveball in the game, plus he consistently throws in the upper 90s with a multitude of different fastballs in his arsenal. Even at the age of 36, he’s developed late in his career into one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Tyler Glasnow came on big last year in April until he went down for the bulk of the season, but this is clearly a guy who has found his groove with the Rays after coming over from Pittsburgh (much like Austin Meadows). Glasnow throws even harder than Morton and Snell more consistently with even sharper breaking pitches. And he has a lot fewer innings taxed on him, so I would expect Glasnow to come out fresher and healthier than ever and take this league by storm once again. Glasnow is rapidly on the rise. I think we see Snell, Morton, and Glasnow all in contention for AL CY Young in 2020.

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After their big guns in the rotation, there is some concern about what the Rays have underneath their top three, but there is a variation of ways they can approach those starting slots. Yonny Chirinos is probably the number four starter and it looked as though Brendan Mckay is lined up for the fifth slot until he was most recently sent down.

But there also waits Ryan Yarbrough, who’s primarily a long relief/bulk guy who follows openers, as well as Anthony Banda and Brent Honeywell– two highly touted prospects who have yet to really break into the Major Leagues. That fifth slot in the rotation could be filled by anybody at this point.

The Rays’ rotation is young (with the exception of Charlie Morton), it’s fresh, and everybody throws hard and has a high ceiling that hasn’t been reached yet. Is this group primed for the postseason as is? They’ll most likely need a reliable fourth starter, but the good news is their bullpen is fantastic and has the potential to evolve into the best pen in all of baseball in 2020; very 2015 Royals-like