The Tampa Bay Rays were an extremely competitive team last year, to the point where they took the Houston Astros to the brink in the ALDS before being eliminated. They did this as one of the smallest market teams and with the second lowest attendance of any MLB team in the country. They did it with solid starting pitching with the likes of Charlie Morton, who was a Cy young Candidate in 2019, and a group of young virtually unknown players to help on the offensive side as well. Overall this was a very important stepping stone for the Rays, with the use of the opener working extremely well for them as well. This proved that they should be able to sustain this kind of winning rate by employing similar tactics in the future.
96-66 was the record for the Rays last season, which was more than enough to earn them a wild card birth. From there they went on to challenge the Astros in the playoffs before ultimately being eliminated. However, the future looks very bright for the team out of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Obviously one of the bright points was the emergence of their ace, Charlie Morton. He broke onto the scene after moving from Houston to Tampa, and he came on and provided a spark for the Rays.
Another Bright spot was their young DH Austin Meadows. At the age of 24 he hit 33 home runs and provided a spark for the team. He slashed .291/.364/.558 over the course of 530 ABs and had 29 doubles to couple with that as well. He was a significant addition to this lineup and helped them along the way to a wild card birth.
The final bright spot I will be talking about is Emilio Pagan. At the age of 28 he provided support out of the bullpen for the Rays, and was the closer for the majority of the season, racking up 20 Saves in 70 innings pitched. He recorded a 2.31 ERA as well and was 4-2 on the year. He did allow the most home runs out of all the members of the bullpen but he also threw the most amount of innings. This might be something to look at going forward.
A low point was the disappointing season put together by Blake Snell, after having the best season of his career, he had a very disappointing 2019 season. His ERA jumped from 1.89 in 2018 to 4.29 in 2019. He will look to bounce back in 2020
The 2019 Rays set records as well. They set the record for most road wins in a season at 9 and during that point in the year, they had won 12 out of 14 during that stretch of time.
The biggest problem with predicting the future of the Rays is that they are a small market team, it is hard for them to keep their current stars, let alone reel in any big signings over the Free agency period as well. They will need to find a way to better employ the use of their opener, which was extremely successful over the course of this season I should add, and use it to the effect of allowing starters to go deeper into games. This will cause there to be less of a need for bullpen arms, which are hard to come by for big teams let alone small teams, so the successful bullpen arms that they have can run the show in the late innings.
Like Logan mentioned in his previous posts, this is where the fun comes in for us. We get to try and successfully predict the future, and we promise that we are not time travelers. I believe that over the course of the next 5 years, we will continue to see tons of changes within the organization when the players constantly take off for free agency. This is nothing new to the organization. Despite this loss of talent year after year, I believe that the Rays will be able to stay a consistent threat to the top of the AL East time and time again. They are a solid club with a good foundation. If they can get some of their players like Morton, Meadows, and others with similar talent level to those previously mentioned, then I think they will be able to compete for a title sooner then we could foresee.