Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Tampa Bay Rays
Projected Starting Lineup
C Wilson Ramos—The Rays signed Ramos in the offseason, but he is expected to be out until July with a knee injury. Curt Casali will be the primary catcher in the meanwhile, but if Ramos’ injury looks to keep him out longer than July, watch to see if the Rays sign Derek Norris who would be an immediate upgrade to the position.
1B Logan Morrison—Lomo will be the first baseman against RHP. Rickie Weeks is expected to be the first baseman vs. LHP. Neither Morrison nor Weeks is worth much in a mixed league format. They are best served as DFS plays in good matchups.
2B Brad Miller—With Logan Forsythe now in LA, the full-time 2B job belongs to Miller. Miller has always had an underrated power/speed combination and last year he exploded for 30 home runs. While I am not sure that he will ever hit 30 again, I can easily see him hitting 20-25 and getting about 10-15 steals. He also qualifies at 1B which should boost his appeal.
SS Matt Duffy—Duffy is going to start the season on the DL with a heel injury, so watch for Nick Franklin and Tim Beckham to share the position. Franklin will play vs. RHP, while Beckham will play against LHP. Out of the two, I like Beckham’s upside—he often hits second in the batting order when a lefty is on the mound. As for Duffy, I think he will eventually be ok, but I see him more as a waiver wire add in June more than anyone I would trust at my draft.
3B Evan Longoria—If you want consistency at third base, look no further than Longoria. You can pencil him in for 30/90 with a batting average about .270.
OF Kevin Kiermaier—I am excited about Kiermaier’s potential and so are the Rays. They just signed him to a lengthy contract because they know how good he is defensively as well as the fact that he is an emerging offensive force. I would argue that with a full 600 at bats that we might see a 20 HR/30 SB season from him which would catapult him into the upper echelon of AL outfielders. Keep his name high on your list of breakout candidates.
OF Steven Souza—I was pretty excited when Souza came to the Rays two seasons ago, but we have yet to see that player. Souza has a good blend of power and speed, but he has struggled to stay healthy and has also struggled to make contact. 159 strikeouts in 450 at bats will not ingratiate you to your manager or keep you in the lineup with any regularity.
OF Colby Rasmus—Rasmus has turned into a true one trick pony he hits for power vs. RHP. Outside of that, his average will kill you, and he has little to no speed on the bases.
Util Mallex Smith—Smith is a speed demon, but will need an injury or two to carve out playing time. He is nothing more than a name to stash at the end of your drafts.
SP Chris Archer—Archer is without question the darling pick amongst experts this season. Everyone is predicting a bounceback year from him, and many Fantasy owners are even taking him in the fourth round of their drafts. I, too, think that Archer’s stuff is so good that I cannot help but believe he will rebound. He let up 30 HR last year. If he can lower that number to 20, I think he can shave a bunch off his ERA. Put Archer down for 15 wins and an ERA of about 3.20 this season.
SP Jake Odorizzi—There was off-season talk that either Odorizzi or Cobb was going to be traded, but for now both pitchers are still with the team. Odorizzi was dominant against RHB last year and also really picked up his game in the second half of the season. If he can build on those numbers, look for him to ascend into becoming one of the top 20 pitchers in the AL.
SP Alex Cobb—Cobb is expected to be fully healthy this season after making a recovery from Tommy John surgery. Before the surgery, Cobb was one of the top arms on the team (he had an ERA under 3.00 twice). He is slowly ramping back into form, and I think that he will come at a discount this year.
SP Blake Snell—Snell is a work in progress and should start delivering on his vast potential this season. Last year he struggled with walks 51 in 89 IP, so that will be the first order of business to measure his success. A WHIP of 1.62 can kill any Fantasy team, so watch Snell closely. If your team’s WHIP begins to smell, you might have to cut bait on Snell early in the season.
SP Matt Andriese—Andriese will get a chance to start the season at the Rays 5th starter, but he might end up moving to the bullpen rather quickly. The team traded Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers in the off-season for Jose DeLeon, and the Rays will probably bring DeLeon up in early June after the Super Two deadline. DeLeon is certainly worth owning in dynasty leagues.
RP Brad Boxberger—Boxberger’s abdominal injury last season opened the door to Colome’s becoming the team’s closer and sadly for Boxberger, Colome took the job and ran with it. Now Boxberger is back to being the setup man and occasional fill-in closer. As a small market club, though, don’t put it past the Rays to consider trading Colome. If they do, Boxberger has shown that he can be a top closer in the past and would easily slide back into that position.
Closer Alex Colome—Colome always had killer stuff, but they never tried him in the bullpen until last year when Boxberger got hurt. Then the team figured out that his makeup was perfect for the position and Colome went on to be one of the top closers in the AL. I think he can build on last year’s numbers and continue to be a force in the bullpen for the Rays.