Our Tampa Bay Rays are back again.
The question on everyone's minds: How will they fare a year after winning the AL East for the first time in years and ousting the Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros in the playoffs before losing the World Series to the Dodgers in Game 6?
- If history serves: After finishing 2008 with 97 wins and 65 losses and a World Series appearance (we see you, Philly), the Rays took a step back the following year, finishing third and missing the playoffs.
- This year's team has a bunch of questions marks, and that should make for a fun season. Almost always does.
Here's what the experts are thinking:
- The Tampa Bay Times' John Romano: "It may not be the classic model of five starters combining for 750 innings or more — the way the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres and Nationals will likely do it — and the Rays are not making any top-10 lists of MLB rotations, but don’t be shocked to see Tampa Bay in a familiar place come September."
- FiveThirtyEight predicts they'll finish with a 88-74 record and have a 51% chance of making the playoffs, a 21% chance of winning the division, and a 4% of winning the World Series.
- 30 of ESPN's 37 baseball experts picked the Yankees to win the AL East, with just 3 going for the Rays. "While the Yankees certainly face formidable competition from the Rays, the upstart Blue Jays and potentially the Red Sox, I think their top-tier talent will win out," wrote Joon Lee.
If you're thinking about going to a game, the Rays fall on the higher end of the pack in terms of COVID-era capacity — and they do play in the MLB's only fully enclosed stadium:
This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.
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