Ahead of Opening Day 2019, the Tampa Bay Rays have revealed their starters for the fist game of the year. Juan Toribio and Brian McTaggart revealed their projected Tampa Bay Rays opening day lineup vs. the Houston Astros’s Justin Verlander in an article for MLB.com as follows:
1) RF Austin Meadows
2) LF Tommy Pham
3) 1B Ji-Man Choi
4) 3B Yandy Diaz
5) DH Brandon Lowe
6) 2B Joey Wendle
7) CF Kevin Kiermaier
8) C Mike Zunino
9) SS Willy Adames
Loading up on left-handed hitters makes sense when facing the right-handed Astros ace, and the Rays are going all out in that regard. This lineup puts almost every lefty on the active roster in the lineup, while leaving a bench of righties Avisail Garcia, Guillermo Heredia, Daniel Robertson, and lefty backup catcher Michael Perez.
Interestingly, the Rays appear ready to put righty Yandy Diaz in the 4 hole and in the starting line up. Diaz has not hit for much power in his professional baseball career, which is usually a skill you’d like to see in the middle of the order. However, Yandy has some massive strength and is certainly capable of putting many baseballs over outfield walls if he can elevate his launch angle a bit. Perhaps the Rays believe they can unlock that potential.
One more fun note is the bottom third of the lineup. A 7-8-9 of KK, Zunino, Adames puts a speedy baserunner in front of a power hitter, while also putting a fast runner at the bottom of the lineup to act as a 2nd lead off when it turns back over to the top. Will this be what we see in the regular season?
Defensively, there aren’t any real surprises here. Overall, this lineup looks like a lot of fun and should do damage to right handed pitchers, Verlander notwithstanding.
One more day until real Rays baseball begins...
Read More: Rays set 25 man roster for Opening Day
UPDATE — A previous version of this article called this the official line up. It was only the starters who were official, not the batting order. We apologize for the confusion.