The Tampa Bay Rays continued to defy the odds facing a small market franchise with another stellar season last summer, finishing 96-66 to earn a wild card berth. They were 44-32 against the AL East last year and will play 40 of their 60 games this season against division foes. The Rays were an even 48-33 both at home and away, so the lack of fans in the stands shouldn’t impact their results.
The Rays are flush with young talent including OF Austin Meadows, SS Willy Adames, and 2B Brandon Lowe – who took off with 17 homers over 82 games before an injury ended his 2019 campaign. Tampa’s bullpen led MLB with 377 IP last year and posted a league-best 3.71 ERA. Now their starting rotation should be even stronger if Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell can both stay healthy. Those stud pitchers, and the Rays hard-throwing staff in general, are set up well for a 60-game sprint.
The Rays will hope their recent run of success translates for Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo after he’s averaged 35 homers per season in Japan the past four years. He can add yet another dangerous lefty bat to do damage in the cramped stadiums of the AL East. Tampa Bay may get Ji-Man Choi into a more consistent role and will look for Hunter Renfroe to step into the void of righty power bat left by Avisail Garcia’s departure.
The Rays are the sixth favorite to win the 2020 World Series, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. They’re listed with +1800 odds at that book, trailing the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, Braves and Twins. That means a $10 bet on the Rays to win the World Series would profit $180 if successful.
The Rays are tied with the Twins with +800 odds to win the American League. Those teams trail only the Yankees (+175) and Astros (+350) at DK Sportsbook. And the Rays are once again behind the Yankees with +350 odds to win the AL East. Given the shortened nature of this season, it would make far more sense to take a perceived longshot bet at +350 than to assume the Yankees can win the division in a small sample size.
There are individual bets on the Rays, including their expected regular season win total, listed at 33.5 at DK. The Over on that total has -130 odds, while the Under has +105 odds. That indicates the Over is more likely, but a successful $20 bet would cash $35.38.
Rays odds 2020
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays betting breakdown
2019 Record: 96-66
Key losses: C Travis d’Arnaud (Braves), IF Matt Duffy (Rangers), RF Avisail Garcia (Brewers), OF Guillermo Heredia, P Emilio Pagan (Padres), OF Tommy Pham (Padres), 1B Jesus Aguilar (Marlins)
Key additions: 1B Jose Martinez, RF Hunter Renfroe, CF Manuel Margot, P Dylan Covey, 1B/OF Yoshitomo Tsutsugo
1. LF Austin Meadows (L)
2. 3B Yandy Diaz (R)
3. 2B Brandon Lowe (L)
4. RF Hunter Renfroe (R)
5. DH Yoshi Tsutsugo (L)
6. 1B Ji-Man Choi (L)
7. C Mike Zunino (R)
8. CF Kevin Kiermaier (L)
9. SS Willy Adames (R)
Projected rotation: RP Charlie Morton, LP Blake Snell, RP Tyler Glasnow, LP Ryan Yarbrough, RP Yonny Chirinos
Projected closer: RP Nick Anderson
Bullpen strengths: The bullpen should again be a strength for the Rays with their often used, by-committee approach. The Rays’ pen led the majors with 773 combined innings in 2019. Diego Castillo is a workhorse arm, in 2019 he posted a 3.41 ERA in 65 games with 81 strikeouts. Jose Alvarado is coming off an elbow injury but has a nasty sinker that had a 10.1 swinging strike rate and he posted ten consecutive outings to start the year before tailing off possibly due to his elbow injury (Scott Chu, PitcherList). Alvarado should be reliable setup man in the 2020 pen if healthy.
Bullpen weaknesses: Nick Anderson is the expected closer but it could be a role that changes often since Tampa uses a unique approach to their pen. Anderson was not the closer for the team in 2019. However Anderson posted an impressive 2.11 ERA, going 3-0 in 23 games with 41 Ks. So the weakest part of the pen may still be a strength for the Rays.
Key Stats from 2019
- Ji-Man Choi hit a career-high 19 homers in 2019 while 2B Brandon Lowe hit 17 homers in only 82 games. 3B Yandy Diaz also hit a career-high in dingers with 14 last season.
- The Rays’ bullpen led the majors with 773 combined innings in 2019.