The Tampa Bay Rays had a good 20222 when they finished five games above .500 with 86 wins and 76 losses. The problem for the Rays is that they play in the tough American League East. with the New York Yankees winning the division with 99 wins and the Toronto Blue Jays having 92 wins. That means the Rays have a pair of teams to run down to win the division.
The Tampa Bay Rays start the season at home with a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field that begins on Thursday, March 30. After a quick, three-tilt series against the Washington Nationals on the road, the Rays return home for three against the Oakland Athletics and then four against the Boston Red Sox.
Here are three questions for the Rays ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
Will the analytics prove to be effective again?
Plenty of organizations in MLB could strive to be a little more like the Tampa Bay Rays. This is a team that isn’t going to outspend anyone, but their data-driven, analytics-heavy approach always keeps them competitive in a tough division. They will again be looking for that approach to be effective, hoping that meticulously identified offseason additions will add to an already impressive array of young talent.
Can Wander Franco stay healthy?
Wander Franco is the key cog that will drive this team forward in the lineup. Last season he was only able to appear in 83 games – essentially missing half of the season – with injuries to his hand and hamstring. The hamstring was especially frustrating as it is an injury that is hard to judge regarding returning to full health. Franco put up a 2.3 fWAR and 116 wRC+, and at the tender age of 22, he still has years of baseball growth ahead of him. If he goes off, then this lineup becomes a top-10 unit.
Does the pitching continue to succeed?
Tyler Glasnow will miss the start of the season with an oblique issue, and it is important that the Rays don’t get hasty and rush him back into the rotation before he is ready. His ERA of just north of 3.0 with the Rays suggests he can become the ace that was expected at one point in his development. They should be able to lean on Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs, and Yonny Chirinos until Glasnow can be worked back into the rotation.