Postseason Previews: Tampa Bay Rays

Posted: October 3, 2013 in Uncategorized



2013 Record: 92-71, Won AL Wild Card

Offense: It has been a roller coaster ride of a campaign for the Tampa Bay Rays. No, their contention has never been in doubt. But, there was a time over the summer that Tampa Bay looked like the AL East frontrunner. Despite their midsummer battles with Boston ultimately culminating with the Red Sox taking control of the division, the Rays maintained their pace to earn a berth in a one-game playoff against Texas on Monday. Behind David Price, the Rays were able to overcome the high-payrolled Rangers to advance to the Wild Card Game. A victory over Cleveland on Wednesday set the Rays up for another trip to Fenway Park for a date with the Boston Red Sox.

The Rays’ offense is far from their strength. Yes, rookie Wil Myers (.293-13-53) and All-Star 3B Evan Longoria (.269-32-88) provide plenty of production. But, the Rays have relied on average to below-average production from C Jose Molina (.233-2-18), SS Yunel Escobar (.256-9-56), and OF Kelly Johnson (.235-16-52). Free agent acquisition Delmon Young (.258-3-7) hit a home run in Cleveland, and should provide a decent right-handed bat against southpaws. This is a very good defensive team.

Rotation: It depends who you ask; but, the Rays’ rotation is often either overrated or underrated. Price (10-8, 3.33) has proven once again that he is a big-game pitcher. He will start games 2 and 5 of their Division Series against Boston. A trio of talented youngsters make up the rest of their staff as Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29), Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76), and Chris Archer (9-7, 3.22) all experienced breakout seasons in 2013.

Bullpen: The Tampa Bay bullpen has been quite erratic this season. Fernando Rodney (5-4, 3.38, 37 SV) is a steadying force at the back-end. But, their setup relief leaves much to be desired. RHP Joel Peralta (3-8, 3.41) led the AL in games pitched. If nothing else, he is reliable. Long reliever Alex Torres (4-2, 1.71), a starter in the minor leagues, was a tremendous addition to the bullpen who can eat up innings if a starter struggles early on in a game.

Coaching: Few skippers command the respect from his peers quite like Joe Maddon. After all, this is a manager who has led the Rays to four consecutive 90+ win seasons despite a payroll in the bottom ten of the league. Maddon’s laid back attitude meshes well with his young team. However, since leading his team to the World Series in 2008, Maddon’s Rays have yet to win a playoff series.

Outlook: Lose in ALDS, 2-3


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