3 Reactions to the Tampa Bay Rays Start of the 2024 Season

Half a month into the 2024 season, the Tampa Bay Rays sit tied for third place with the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East division with a 10-8 record, 1.5 games behind the 11-6 Baltimore Orioles and two games behind the 12-6 New York Yankees. Not a terrible start to the new season, but certainly a significant downgrade from last year’s historic start to the season, when they won their first 13 games and tied the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers and 1982 Atlanta Braves for the longest streak to begin a season.

Let’s see some reactions to the Rays’ start of the new season.

3 Reactions to the Rays’ Start of the 2024 Season

Offense Looks Sluggish

The Rays offense has had a slow start to the season. Over their first 17 games, they sported a collective batting average of .245 (15th in the league), 71 total runs scored (19th), 15 home runs (19th), .309 on-base percentage (19th), and .373 slugging percentage (20th). Every stat but batting average sat below the middle of the field (15th), a big regression from last year when they started the season at the top of every offensive category.

Infielder Isaac Paredes has been the brightest spot in the Rays lineup. He leads the team in home runs with five and runs batted in with 12, and sits in second place in batting average (minimum 50 plate appearances) with a .259 average only behind José Caballero‘s .286 average. He’ll look to influence his teammates with his good performances and help the team turn things around as the season continues to play out.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause for this sudden decrease in offensive performance, as this year’s lineup is nearly identical to the one that started the 2023 season with 13 straight wins. The only significant change is the absence of shortstop Wander Franco following legal issues in the Dominican Republic, but aside from that, we’re seeing the same names in the Rays starting nine as we did last year. Whatever the reason behind this slump is, they’ll look to turn it around quickly if they want to have a shot at the playoffs this year.

Pitching Needs Work

In contrast, the pitching department has had a terrible start to the season. Before their 4/16 game against the Los Angeles Angels, they recorded a collective ERA of 5.17 (28th in the league), a collective WHIP of 1.47 (27th), and have allowed a total of 26 home runs (29th). Bottom of the barrel in every single category.

Starter Zack Littell has had a good start to the season, sporting a 1.17 ERA and 15.1 innings pitched over three games, as has Aaron Civale, with a 2.12 ERA and 17 innings pitched over the same stretch. Pitching has been mediocre otherwise; every other starter has an ERA over 4.00, the lowest of which is a 4.63 ERA recorded by Zach Eflin.

Unlike the offense, the pitching has seen major changes in the past few seasons. the absences of Tyler Glasnow and Shane McClanahan are taking a toll on the team’s performance, and last year’s acquisitions Zack Littell and Zach Eflin are struggling to find their footing in this new campaign. We can blame their recent struggles on these two factors, but we can’t get complacent. They have to turn things around, preferably sooner rather than later.

Stars Are Waning

We can’t help but wonder what happened to the players who, after having a breakout season and being among the best players in the league last season, are nowhere to be seen this new season. Randy Arozarena, after being named an All-Star in 2023, has started the season with just 11 hits on 60 at-bats (.183 batting average). Yandy Díaz was also named an All-Star last year and has slumped this season, getting 14 hits on 67 at-bats (.209 batting average). The injuries of Shane McClanahan, Brandon Lowe, Jeffrey Springs, and Taylor Walls certainly don’t make the situation any better. We can only hope they’ll come back stronger, but if things keep going as they have been, this could be a very long season for the Tampa Bay squad.

Main Image: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

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