“Frank the Tank, Frank the Tank.”
No, we’re not talking about Old School (2003; Dreamworks); we’re talking about the 2023 Tampa Bay Rays. Yes, those pesky Rays that draw an average attendance of a whopping 13K fans to the comfy confines of the Trop (located in St. Petersburg).
By some small miracle or due to a bustling payroll of 74.5 million, no one can really be sure; the Rays began the year by tying a major league record 13 wins* to open the season; before falling to the Bluejays.
Loaded with young talent, that will surely not be compensated for their performance in the long run; Tampa has continued to defy the odds and consistently overperformed.
What does all of this mean for you Tampa Bay Rays fans? Let’s go to the history books.
Only twice in the modern era; 1982 & 1987 has a team opened the season 13-0.
The 1982 Braves would finish 89-73 (+16) and go all the way to the NLCS; before losing to the Cardinals in 3 games (best of 5) respectfully.
The 1987 Brewers would finish 91-71 (+20 games) and miss the playoffs. In fact, the division winners, Detroit who finished 98-64 (+34), would lose to a Minnesota team (+8), 4-1 in the ALCS.
Plain and simple early perfection does not yield a World Series championship.
Tampa Bay Rays Injury Report
More importantly however, the Rays are now being visited by the injury bug. In the last week alone Zach Efflin, and Jeffrey Springs now find themselves joining an already depleted list of young bullpen mates, in the likes of Tyler Glasnow & Shane Baz.
Knowing that baseball is a marathon and not a sprint, the Rays can find some solace in the guarantee of a long season. They’ve sprinted out of the gate and now find themselves atop the NL East; however, they only lead the Bluejays by 4 games.
The Rays must now set a sustainable pace with which to navigate the remainder of the season. Tougher games and opponents lie ahead, as all 30 MLB teams will either travel to, or host each team for a series. The Rays hope of a 5th consecutive postseason appearance rests on two things: health and the talents of Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, and Josh Lowe.
Can the offense continue to shine? Will the remaining members of the starting rotation continue to have quality starts? Will other teams “Go Streaking”?