Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Danny Farquhar
Jake McGee, Asdrubal Cabrera, John Jaso
The swap of McGee for Dickerson was obviously a huge one, and it seems to be a smart one for the Rays. They needed a big spark in the middle of their lineup, and while Dickerson comes with risk he certainly has the potential to provide a spark. The Rays have been a team that can produce relievers and have some in the system, and losing a closer for a potential key piece in the lineup has to be a win.
Projected Playoff Lineup
- Logan Forsythe
- Kevin Kiermaier
- Evan Longoria
- Corey Dickerson
- Logan Morrison/Desmond Jennings
- Desmond Jennings/Steven Souza
- James Loney/Steve Pearce
- Curt Casali
- Brad Miller/Tim Beckham
The Rays lineup has potential to be a better hitting team than last year. The addition of Dickerson is the addition of depth, versatility and even adds defense. Dickerson last year suffered from plantar fasciitis which may linger throughout his career. However, they can rotate Jennings, Souza and Morrison at the corners. Kiermaier is set to start at center field as a star defensive outfielder, so if Dickerson can play effectively the outfield should be strong as far as depth and talent go. The infield lacks a lot of pop minus Longoria. Forsythe is coming off of his best season of his career, but he has little to no power, and is best known as a guy who is good for walking and taking counts deep.Fortunately it is a strong defensive infield, and a guy like Pearce can be good for pop, while the rest of the infield would just be needed for situational hitting.
The Rays rotation has the chance to be a really strong one. Archer is a guy who last year emerged as an ace and arguably a top ten pitcher in the league. He only sits at 27, and sabermetrically should be able to have a similar year to the one of last year. With Archer, both Smyly and Odorizzi could be considered candidates to have a much better year. Smyly only threw 66 innings last year, but when he played he was effective. If he can stay healthy he has the control and the ability to be a strong number two or three pitcher. Odorizzi has the stuff to break past Smyly however. He has proven that he can miss bats effectively and usually can keep his hard hit balls in the park. He really only has two pitches, but if he can add one more pitch that is at least somewhat effective, he could be in for a major breakout. The backend of the rotation is pretty consistent, but it could get a major boost if Alex Cobb is to come back at some point this year. Cobb has been dealing with injury for a couple of years now and is coming off of a May Tommy John surgery, but he was on pace to be the ace of the staff, with just as good or better stuff than Archer. He can be eased in due to the depth of pitching, but if he comes back, and all of the sudden one of Odorizzi or Smyly is a back end guy, the depth and the talent from top to bottom could be one of the best in the league.
With the strong rotation, the Rays also add an above average pen. Moving Alex Colome out of the rotation and into the pen not only opens spots in a deep rotation, but should be good for Colome and the pen. He has always been good in spurts, and it usually was getting him to go six or more innings when you would see problems. As a backend guy in the pen it will be the last thing he needs to worry about, and with the Rays pitching coaches he should easily be able to adjust to the call. With Colome added, the Rays have a strong pen from to bottom, and given that their offense isn’t one of the best in the league this will be where the Rays want to make their hay.
The Rays are a team that will need health and goodwill in their lineup to stay competitive. There isn’t a huge pop in the lineup, and that could be a detriment in a division loaded with power. However, they more than likely have the best pitching in the division and if Longoria and Dickerson are hitting to their ability, it could be just enough to make a run at the division. However, Longoria is aging, and Dickerson has injury notes, and with those it is too hard to trust this team to win the division. They should compete, but may be just a bit short this year.
4th in the AL East