What are the Keys to the series, and who are the players to watch in this series?
Keys to the Series:
- Win close ball games. The Tampa Bay Rays were 28-31 in one run games, and 5-7 in extra inning games. This series should not see blowouts for either team, it will be a tough four game set, so the Tampa Bay Rays will be forced to step up in close games.
- How will the opener work for a second year? This Astros lineup is special, and their hotshot third basemen does not like the strategy very much. This is not a team you want to have an off day against on the mound, because the game will spiral out of control quickly.
- The Bullpen. The Tampa Bay Rays spent the first half of last year giving games away in the later innings, and this Astros lineup has that never say die late game potential. This is a tough taste for the Rays in all aspects, especially the bullpen.
Who to watch for:
- Alex Bregman. The Houston Astros just gave the 24 year old third basemen 100 million dollars this month, and he is ready to rock and roll. The young star has made a brand for himself off the field, growing a popular youtube community to expand the game, and signing a mega-deal with Adidas. However, his play on the field might be the most exciting. Defensively, he can play Shortstop and Third base, both at gold glove level, but also gets it done at the dish. Bregman finished fifth in MVP voting a year ago, and he is my pick to take home the hardware this year.
- Kevin Kiermaier. It is no secret he was bad a year ago, like, really bad. He seems locked in this Spring though, and he is hitting at the bottom of the order now, which takes some pressure off of him. it is no question the 28 year old will roam the outfield turf and cover ground in a flash with his 28.9 sprint speed, and leaping ability at the walls that he will undoubtedly run into with a bang for a jaw dropping grab. If the Tampa Bay Rays can get any sort of production from Kiermaier in this lineup, that raises the ceiling exponentially. I am not one to take unquantifiable things into account very often, but a good series here could be just what the doctor ordered to spark a bounce back season for Kiermaier and allow his confidence to soar as he does in the outfield.
So there you have it, the first Series Preview of the year! We have made it folks! Baseball is here! Let us know in the comments what you thought of the first series preview, and what you predict for this four game set. I am going to forecast an exciting four game split.