The Tampa Bay Rays overcame many obstacles in 2023From American League Cy Young front runner Shane McClanhan being sidelined for the remainder of the season in August, to All-Star shortstop Wander Franco's off-field legal issues leading to being placed on administrative leave by MLB, it is fair to claim that the Rays were dealt a bad hand in 2023 and were tremendously resilient to finish the season with 99 wins.
Nonetheless, their season came to a halt in disappointing fashion as they were swept two games to zero by the Texas Rangers in the wild card series. Here are three major keys that will enable the Rays to remain one of the powerhouses in the American League in 2024.
1. Shane Baz fulfills expectations
Historically, the Rays have relied heavily on pitching and defense for their success, and that should not be any different next season. We already know that they will be without the services of McClanahan for the entirety of the season. Additionally, there is a lot of speculation about the Rays potentially trading Tyler Glasnow.
This alone means that the opening day rotation in 2024 will likely look much different than it looked in the majority 2023, featuring Zach Eflin, Jeffery Springs, Drew Rasmussen, Aaron Civale, and Shane Baz. We have seen enough of the first four to know what they are capable of if they stay healthy for the lenght of a season. If Shane Baz can live up to lofty beginnings the Rays can still feature one of the top starting rotations in the bigs despite being without McClanahan and Glasnow.