The Tampa Bay Rays are an extremely volatile team. A lot can happen to make this one of the most significant years in franchise history, and there could be a parade in Tampa Bay come November to celebrate the first World Series in franchise history.
However, there’s a lot that could go wrong to make it one of the most disappointing in the franchise’s two decades of major league play.
[Editor’s note: If things go terribly wrong, please reach out to Adam directly.]
Blake Snell regresses
Blake Snell is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, thanks to a change he made in the summer of 2017. However, if he falls back to his old ways and allows his control to haunt him, the Rays could be in for a rough season out of their ace.
Tommy Pham doesn’t replicate his 2018 numbers
Tommy Pham gave Rays fans a taste of what it would have looked like if the team had drafted Mike Trout after being acquired last trade deadline. Pham plays the game hard, hits the ball harder, and is just an amazing player. However, he struggled during the first half of of 2018, and if he doesn’t produce the MVP type numbers that are expected, things could sour in Tampa Bay for Pham.
Tyler Glasnow doesn’t breakout
Tyler Glasnow has an amazing arsenal of pitches to work with, but has failed to consistently harness command of that arsenal, leading to a lack of of success at the major league level. However, during his brief time with the Rays last season, Glasnow displayed the ability to command those pitches, which could potentially turn him into a Cy Young candidate. Unfortunately, if he falls back to his old ways, it will be a long tough year for Glasnow in the AL East.
Charlie Morton underperforms or is injured
The largest free agent contract in franchise history comes with high expectations. Charlie Morton has been a dependable front of the rotation arm for a long time, but has suffered wear and tear throughout his career, including towards the end of last season. If he goes down, the $15M he is owed in 2019 will be pretty heavy on the minds of the fanbase and front office.
Kevin Kiermaier gets hurt
Kevin Kiermaier is poised for a big return in 2019, if he can only stay healthy. The Rays have depth, but nothing quite compares to his stellar defensive contribution to the team and recent history suggest that Kiermaier will get hurt at some point in 2019, having missed significant time in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The “Opener” fails
Ryne Stanek and Diego Castillo are the Rays Openers. They were fantastic for the Rays in 2018 and helped provide the Rays with a solid option every 3rd or 4th day of the rotation. However, if they falter, the Rays will face mass scrutiny from pundits around the game and they’ll have to find another tactic to give them an advantage.
Jake Bauers outperforms Yandy Diaz
Perhaps the most controversial move of the offseason for the Rays, was the decision to trade Jake Bauers AND $5MM to acquire Yandy Diaz from the Cleveland Indians. Diaz has plenty of untapped potential, but the Rays dealt away a former top prospect and fan favorite to get him.
Wander Franco doesn’t make his MLB debut
This one isn’t happening anyway, but still a disappointment.