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30 Teams In 30 Days: The Tampa Bay Rays Keep On Chugging

I'm so glad my team doesn't play in the same division as the Tampa Bay Rays. It would be like playing the 2015 Royals 12 times a year. You just get sick of it. When you look at the offseason that the Rays had, it shouldn't inspire much hope. Tyler Glasnow has been traded, and they're going to come into the year without two of their best starting pitchers, and yet I still have complete confidence that they'll scratch and claw their way to playoff contention. It's just what they do. This has to be such a weird team to play for. The upside is that they have a tremendous front office that gets the most out of their players; the downside is those players (especially pitchers) often get injured, ownership isn't going to be willing to spend any money, and you play in the worst stadium possible. Every few months, you're going to have to hear about what potential relocation may have to look like. 

I feel like I'm taking the bait here, but I do feel like the Rays take something of a step back compared to their 99-win campaign from a season ago. Part of me wants to put them lower. I mean, they have been so riddled with injuries to their pitching staff, and even though they got off that historic start last year, they were a pretty pedestrian ball club the last several months of the season. There's also the whole situation of what happened with Wander Franco. So I'm tempted to drop them on the list, but I know that if I do that, they'll probably just end up winning more games despite me. 

The one thing this organization always has is depth. Most other teams would have their campaigns derailed by the number of pitching injuries that they've had over the last several years, but I have to give credit to the Rays; they do keep chugging, at least in the regular season. That may be why I'm down on them. I've seen this movie play out many times. The Rays will have a fine campaign and trick us into believing they can make a run through October, and then they'll get popped in the first round like they typically do. It's a fine organization, but aside from the Covid year, they haven't won a playoff series since 2008. Winning the one-game wildcard doesn't count. They'll be a thorn in people's side all year, but I don't expect them to outrun the other horses in the race.