Tampa Bay Rays: Clearing the Hurdles, 2019 Retrospective Part Two
Tampa Bay Rays: 2019 Season in Review (part two)- We take a look at what went right in 2019. How the Rays overcame the obstacles from part one to win 96 games.
In part one we discussed all of the setbacks the Tampa Bay Rays faced after a 90-win 2018. 2019 was not an easy road to 96 victories, but the Rays found a way to offset the setbacks, clear the hurdles, and improve. If you missed part one of this article, it can be found here.
Clearing the Hurdles
Yandy Diaz Trade – Yandy Diaz average exit velocity has been among the league’s best as a pro, but his bat speed wasn’t equating to power production. The Rays made a surprising trade heading into 2019, sending promising young hitter, Jake Bauers to Cleveland for Yandy Diaz. The Rays were able to tap into his power potential, as Yandy hit a career-high in slugging percentage with .476 and clubbing 14 homers in 307 at-bats. Yandy was able to come back from an injury in time to blast two home runs in the AL Wild Card game.
-The Tampa Bay Rays had the best team ERA in the AL despite a down season from 2018 Cy Young winner, Blake Snell (4.29 ERA, 1.27 WHIP).
With only Blake Snell and Charlie Morton being certain locks in the rotation heading into the 2019 season, the Rays employed the opener strategy once again, with Ryne Stanek starting 27 games and only logging 55.2 innings for Rays prior to being traded to the Marlins. Ryan Yarbrough provided quality inning eating with 14 starts in 28 games and 141.2 innings pitched. The Rays ended the season with the number one bullpen in the entire league with a 3.66 ERA.
The Rays set a franchise record for money spent on a free-agent starting pitcher by signing Charlie Morton to a two-year, $30 million contract. Charlie Morton outperformed his $15 million salary (especially considering how much top pitchers are currently getting paid) going 16-6 with 240 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA. Morton finished third in 2019’s AL Cy Young voting.