The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t just a streaky team; they’re for real.
The month of April belonged to the Rays.
At 16 games above.500 to start the year, the Tampa Bay Rays have dominated in every series, losing only one series on the year to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Beyond that, every game has been a good showing of offensive production and lights-out pitching, which has led to the success of this team. However, there are more numbers that show the potential of what this 2023 season can be for this team going forward.
The Tampa Bay Rays have 13 straight wins at home, tying the 2009 Dodgers for the second-longest home streak to start a season since 1901. The 1907 New York Giants hold the record with 15 in a row.https://t.co/Dydxoe5tYe
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) April 23, 2023
Keys To The Rays Hot Start
Offensive Production During The Rays Hot Start
Last season was a mediocre year for the Rays in terms of offensive production.
The team was in the bottom half in batting average with a.239 AVG and an OPS of.686, the 24th-best team in the league last season.
To start the month of April, Tampa Bay leads the league in most offensive categories, including home runs (48), hitting a homer in each of the team’s 22 games, OBP%, SLG%, AVG%, and OPS.
While the offensive numbers show that they have been the best team in terms of the bats, the team has outscored opponents 149-61 in runs scored-runs allowed, putting them with a run differential of +88, by far the best run differential number in baseball.
Another positive with these numbers is that the contributions have come from everyone.
Speaking on this, 12 players have hit at least one home run on the roster, and 5 regulars are currently hitting over.300.
Although the offensive numbers may not last all season with the way the game is, it is a good momentum start, especially after this team’s woes on this side of the ball last season.
The Pitching Staff During The Rays Hot Start
In baseball, it is difficult to get both your bats and pitching staff hot early.
Many teams either rely on pitching to pick up the slack of a lackluster offense or on the bats to pick up the pieces of a pitching staff that isn’t holding its own.
However, in the Rays’ case, they have been able to perfect both sides of the game to start the year.
As a team, the Rays hold a 2.71 ERA, making them the league leader in that category.
The team has only allowed 59 earned runs, 8 fewer than the second-best team, a favorable margin to begin a season on the pitching side.
The key here in all this is not the team numbers, however, but individually speaking, the starting rotation has made its case to potentially be the best in baseball.
One thing that the Rays have always had is depth, and the Rays have been able to get five of their starters under a 3.00 ERA, which includes a young Taj Bradley, who, coming in, had some concern about the fact that he hasn’t had much Triple-A experience.
The Rays have always been able to hold a solid rotation together, and with Zach Eflin back and the potential for Tyler Glasnow to return soon, the Rays will be in better shape, especially after losing a valuable piece in Jeffery Springs, who will be out until next season with Tommy John surgery.
Taking Care of Business
Although anyone can win on any given day, the Rays have done a stellar job of taking care of teams that they should beat.
Coming into 2023, the month of April was looking to be a favorable month for the team to start the year, featuring series against the Oakland A’s, Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, and Cincinnati Reds, teams that were looking to be bottom dwellers in the league this season.
Beyond the two losses to the Jays, who should be a playoff contender this year, Tampa Bay has been able to either sweep or, in the case of the Cincinnati series, win the series at least to start the year.
The big test will come in May when the team will have to see the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Baltimore Orioles, but with the way the team has played, they look as though they can stand up against anyone.
Their second true test in April will take place starting tonight as they take on the Houston Astros in what may be one of the toughest tests of the season for this Rays squad.
Main photo credits:
Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports