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FHC Sports Report

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FHC Sports Report

Season in Review: Tampa Bay Rays


The Tampa Bays Rays have been one of the most consistent American League teams over the past few years, collecting at least 90 wins in four of the last six seasons (excluding 2020, when they still went 40-20). Tampa had boatloads of talent entering 2023, headed by former Rookie of the Year Randy Arozarena and former #1 prospect Wander Franco. They also set a new record for paying a player, giving right-handed pitcher Zach Eflin $40 million to play in Tampa for three seasons. They got out strong to the season but eventually hit a speed bump and came back down to Earth.


The good:

The beginning and the pitching. Tampa Bay won its first 13 games of the season, headed by strong starting pitching. To begin the season, lefty Jeffrey Springs made three starts, displaying a sparkling 0.56 ERA. Tampa closed out their April with a pristine 23-6 record, with a comfortable lead in the AL East. First baseman Yandy Diaz hit .326 with seven home runs in the first month of the season, a sign of things to come as Diaz was given his first career All-Star nod. Left-hander Shane McClanahan pitched to an 11-2 record in 21 starts, collecting a 3.29 ERA. The bullpen was just as good, with righty Shawn Armstrong recording a 1.38 ERA in 39 appearances. Lefty Colin Poche pitched to a 12-3 record out of the bullpen while also owning just a 2.23 ERA. The Rays pitched to an above-average 3.86 ERA this season. Pitching has always been a staple of the new-look Rays, and this season embodied it as well as any.

The bad:

The end and injuries. After ending the first month of the season 17 games over .500 and with a comfortable lead in the AL East, the Rays were overcome in the race by Baltimore in August and never recovered, finishing in second place in the east and getting swept in their Wild Card matchup by the Texas Rangers. Some players, like Luke Raley, got off to scorching starts before cooling off considerably near the end of the year. Raley, for example, connected on 13 home runs in the first three months of the season, then only hit six the rest of the year. Even worse, the Rays’ pitching staff was depleted by the time they started to get threatened in the East race. Springs and McClanahan were both lost to Tommy John—Springs in April and McClanahan in early August—and righty Drew Rasmussen—who had a 2.62 ERA in eight games—was lost to a different elbow surgery. Eflin and former top prospect Tyler Glasnow admirably shouldered the workload in Tampa’s rotation, both hovering around a 3.5 ERA. Unfortunately, two starters aren’t enough to be elite. 

The ugly:

This isn’t going to be a consistent segment; it’s just the best way to describe the situation of Wander Franco. In August, rumors began surfacing about Franco having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl. Franco was placed on the restricted list the day after the rumors began coming out, and he was put on administrative leave a week later, which eventually ended his season. There are so many small details in this case, but there’s a plain and simple conclusion. If the rumors are true, they could spell the end for one of the brightest rising talents in the sport.


Yandy Diaz. Diaz was an underrated on-base machine in the heart of Tampa’s order for years, but the secret’s out now. Diaz started the year hot and kept on hitting, finishing the year with a .330 batting average and 22 home runs, earning an all-star nod, and is certain to garner a few MVP votes. Diaz will surely continue to produce at the top of Tampa’s order for the coming years.

One word:

March. The third month of the year is sometimes described as “In like a lion, out like a lamb,” and that’s the best way I could describe Tampa’s season in a single word. They got off to a scorching start but eventually fell apart thanks to injuries and perhaps just fatigue. If the Rays heal up, they will continue to be dangerous, but the second half of the year left some fans worried.

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About the Contributor
Gibby Wierenga
Gibby is a sophomore entering his first year on the FHC Sports Report staff. He is hopeful to join varsity baseball this season after playing for the freshman team a season ago. He's a big fan of Detroit sports and the University of Michigan. He also is a big baseball brain, so he is very into baseball trivia and is prepared for any question on the subject that could be asked about him. Gibby spends a lot of time at LMCU Ballpark and keeps a close eye on the Whitecaps, even if he's not there. He's excited for the future of the Tigers and cautiously optimistic for the Lions this season. He loves fantasy football and will try to answer questions about it if asked.   Position: Outfield Favorite Tiger: Spencer Torkelson Favorite Lion: Aidan Hutchinson Favorite sports memory: The tournaments he played this summer  

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