2022 Profile: Tampa Bay Rays
Now that the work stoppage is behind us and the teams have had time to improve in preparation for the 2022 season, it’s time to prepare for the next Major League Baseball season by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the different formations. .
On the menu today: the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 2021, gifted Rays manager Kevin Cash once again demonstrated that he is in a class of his own by winning the title of the best of his profession in the American and deservedly so.
Cash led his squad to a first 100-win campaign in the franchise’s 24-year history, winning the title in the East before losing a four-game Divisional Series to the Red Sox in Boston.
By winning a second division title in as many years, the team’s fans now have high expectations when it comes to judging the performances of their favorites ahead of the 2022 season.
However, don’t fool yourself into thinking that Cash will constantly pull rabbits out of his hat whenever the opportunity presents itself. He is excellent, because he does not have the same tools as his colleagues Montoyo, Boone or even Cora, but to say that everything will smile at him constantly is a bit of delusion.
To have 100 wins after losing two dominant pitchers in Charlie Morton and Blake Snell is some form of magic. The 2021 season will also have allowed two young people to stand out: Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena represent the future of the concession and for several years to come.
The off-season, and more particularly the last moments of the lockoutwill have seen the dream of a shared custody of the Rays with the city of Montreal shattered into a thousand pieces to the great despair of baseball fans in the metropolis and the entire province.
Additions and departures
Compared to their division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays, Rays management has been quiet on the trade and free agent market. Recognized for not losing its way, the team has remained faithful to its principles and will rely on its network of subsidiaries in order to remain very competitive within a division considered to be one of the toughest in major baseball.
In terms of new arrivals, there were more departures than arrivals. Only pitchers Corey Kluber and Brooks Raley have added to Kevin Cash’s roster for next season, while the manager has lost the services of several gunners, including Michael Wacha, Chris Archer, Tommy Hunter, Colin McHugh, Cody Reed and Adam Conley.
The most notable departure was that of choice hitter Nelson Cruz, who had finished the season in Tampa Bay from Minnesota.
The Rays have therefore not made waves, true to their habits, and it is from within that the solutions will come into the expert hands of the best manager of the American.
Strengths and weaknesses
The undisputed strength of the Tampa Bay Rays, apart from the quality of their manager, lies in their ability to present, year after year, an exceptional pitching staff.
The relievers under the leadership of Kevin Cash and the way he uses them significantly enhance the caliber of play of this formation. The Andrew Kittredge, Ryan Yarbrough, Pete Fairbanks, JP Feyereisen and JT Chargois dominate as a group and allow the Rays to fight every game.
For their part, the starting pitchers have a mission to get as far as possible in the game knowing full well that Kevin Cash has a philosophy of using his intimidating relievers as soon as he has the chance.
With injuries to Tyler Glasnow and youngster Shane Baz, the short-term pressure will fall on the shoulders of Shane McClanahan, newcomer Corey Kluber, Drew Rasmussen and quite possibly promising Luis Patiño, secured in the trade sending Blake Snell to San Diego.
The Rays’ Achilles’ heel remains their poor ability to generate power. Is Brandon Lowe’s 39 long ball season a mirage? Other than Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows and maybe Wander Franco, there’s no candidate to get the ball out of the field on a regular basis, especially since Tropicana Field isn’t necessarily a hitter’s paradise.
What to expect in 2022?
It would be surprising if Tampa Bay did it again with a 100-win season in 2022, no more than a third straight division title.
Don’t count the Rays out, though, as they’re a resourceful team that will sell out game after game and logically should battle the Blue Jays, Red Sox or Yankees for a playoff berth.
Too bad that the young starter Shane Baz will not be able to assert himself from the first days of the 2022 camp due to an operation which allowed him to extract bone fragments from his right shoulder. Let’s hope he comes back in good enough shape to gain confidence and eventually take control of the Rays’ rotation, because along with young Wander Franco, to whom the team granted a record contract, he represents the future of the franchise.
The Rays, once again very well managed, will fight for a place in the playoffs in 2022. A second or a third position in the East is possible.