It’s every teams dream to get off to a great start every season. Every fan wants to see their beloved team perform well, and the Tampa Bay Rays have done just that. Tampa Bay defeated the Oakland Athletics 9-5 on Friday and 11-0 on Saturday to become 8-0 for the first time in franchise history. During the beginning of the 2023 MLB season, the Rays have yet to compete in a close game, as they’ve won every game by four or more runs. So how have they done it, what’s gone right for Tampa? Let’s take a look at the Rays historic start.
Rays Historic Start: The Pitching
Pitching is a vital asset of every team, especially in the American League East, a division that is home to some of the best offenses in the MLB. Tampa Bay has had great pitching the past few years, and once again this year. The Rays’ pitching staff has a combined ERA of two, a WHIP of 1.019, and 52 strikeouts to start off the season.
The Rays starting rotation consists of Shane McClanahan, Jeffery Springs, Drew Rasmussen, Zach Eflin, and Josh Fleming. Each of these guys more than hold their own, throwing at least five innings per start to help take the load off of the bullpen that has been excellent thus far.
Tampa’s bullpen has shut down opponents this season, surrendering just four runs across six games this season. Led by Kevin Kelly, Calvin Faucher, Colin Poche, Ryan Thompson and Jalen Beeks, the stable of arms in Tampa’s bullpen has been lights out in the early stages of the season. For their next test, the Rays will face the Red Sox and Blue Jays in their upcoming series, so the bullpen will need to be up for the challenge.
Rays Historic Start: The Offense
Make no mistake about it, the Rays offense is explosive. Led by young stars such as Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco, Tampa’s offense is batting a combined .285 which ranks third in the American League with an on-base percentage of .356 that ranks first in the American League.
Tampa’s offense should continue to put up good numbers, playing against the lowly Red Sox in an upcoming series might just extend the Rays historic start. If the Rays offense can keep this up, they should have no problem winning the AL East and just might end up back in the World Series for the second time since 2020.
The continued development of Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena turning into a World Baseball Classic hero give the team two incredibly dynamic at-bats. With both youngsters turning into superstars, the Rays historic start feels like it can be sustainable for the entire season.
A Tough Division
With the American League East sending three teams to the playoffs last year, the Rays are positioning themselves well to stay competitive over a long season. The addition of a suddenly dangerous Orioles team could result in this division coming down to only one or two games at the end of the year.
With the Rays historic start, they find themselves up 3 games over the rival Yankees in the early stages of the season. While there will likely be lots of movement in the standings, winning games early in the season count just the same as winning games towards the end of the year. Any kind of cushion the team can gain could be the difference maker at the end of the year.
What do you think of the Rays historic start? How far do you think the team can extend their winning streak? Let us know in the comments below!
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