The Rays had a very impressive season and will compete for a playoff spot again next year with a new-look roster.
The Tampa Bay Rays (99-63) rounded out the 2023 MLB season narrowly trailing their division leaders, the Baltimore Orioles. Despite finishing just behind Baltimore, the Rays showcased a blend of seasoned veterans and emerging talents that fueled their competitive edge. The close race in the American League East came down to the final week, with injuries plaguing Tampa Bay throughout the demanding season. As the Rays look back on the campaign, their 99-win performance solidifies a very good regular season, but the complete no-show in October cannot be overlooked.
In this in-depth review and preview piece, we will look back on the highs and lows of the 2023 Rays season, while projecting the path forward for 2024 and beyond.
Month by Month
Spring Training and March
Tampa Bay managed to go 15-14 over the course of Spring Training, while trying out a number of players at different positions. The cash-ridden Rays toyed around with several pieces, hoping to find the perfect platoon system. The Rays picked up an Opening Day victory over Detroit in its lone March contest. The Rays would go on to sweep the Tigers across a three-game series.
The Rays recorded a stellar 22-6 record in the month of April to begin the season atop the MLB standings. Tampa Bay started out as the early World Series front-runner, blasting away every opponent it faced as they started 13-0.
Tampa Bay compiled a 17-12 record in the month of May, maintaining its lead on the rest of the MLB challengers. The Rays continued to look like the class of the field, as teams like the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros struggled a bit out of the gate.
The Rays continued their winning ways in the month of June, putting together a 17-10 record to keep pace atop the AL East and ahead of Baltimore. Tampa Bay remained a juggernaut, with massive series against the Braves and AL East foes looming.
Tampa Bay began to fall off its historic pace in the month of July, just before the All-Star break. The Rays opened the month 0-7 against Seattle, Philadelphia and Atlanta before later falling to Texas. Baltimore made its charge up the standings ladder to put itself in position to overtake Tampa Bay.
The month of August saw Tampa Bay return to winning form, as a 17-8 record put the team right back in the AL East race against Baltimore. The Rays looked poised to take back the division from the Orioles, as one month left in baseball loomed.
Tampa Bay played solid baseball down the stretch, going 16-11 in the month of September. However, it was not enough to catch the upstart Orioles in a chase for the AL East crown. As a result, the Rays finished a 99-win season in the Wild Card slot, where they quickly bowed out to the World Series Champion Texas Rangers at home.
The Tampa Bay Rays faced a disappointing exit in the AL Wild Card Round, succumbing to the Texas Rangers in two games. The Rays stumbled on their home turf, falling flat in both performance and fan support. The contrast was stark as a once-boisterous stadium felt eerily silent, mirroring the lackluster attendance. Postseason baseball in Tampa Bay became a somber affair, with a lifeless crowd serving as a stark reminder of the unmet expectations. The Rays’ abrupt departure left a bitter taste, prompting reflection on what went awry and underscoring the challenges of maintaining postseason fervor amid a disheartening home atmosphere.
Texas swept Tampa Bay in its own ballpark on a march towards the team’s first ring in franchise history, which also included a sweep of the AL East-winning Baltimore Orioles.
Despite consistent regular season success over the past half-decade, the Rays have won just one AL pennant in the timeframe, falling short to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.
Looking back on 2020, one may ask themselves whether the usual playoff chokers in Tampa Bay and Los Angeles had fluke runs that year. For teams that seem to always fall short when it matters, the coincidence is too compelling to be ignored.
Heading into the 2024 MLB season, the Tampa Bay Rays carry high expectations following their impressive 99-63 record in 2023. Aiming to capitalize on their past success, the Rays blend seasoned players with emerging talents to fortify their roster. The narrow second-place finish in the AL East, just behind the Baltimore Orioles, fuels their determination for a stronger showing.
The Rays aspire to address deficiencies that led to their premature exit in the Wild Card Round, targeting both regular-season dominance and postseason resilience. With fans eagerly anticipating an electrifying season, Tampa Bay seeks to solidify its contender status. This week’s trade of SP Tyler Glasnow is the biggest step they have taken.
Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the window is not getting any clearer than it was the past few seasons. I expect the Rays to suffer a significant drop-off in the regular season, as the New York Yankees begin their surge back to relevance and the AL Central improves. The loss of SS Wander Franco for a full season will hurt, even though Tampa Bay is returning most of its roster from last season.
Despite getting fully healthy for 2024, I expect the Rays to take a drop-off, as they over performed significantly with an injury-riddled staff in 2023. The demoralizing sweep by Texas has me feeling like Tampa Bay’s best days are behind it.
Tampa Bay will contend for a Wild Card spot, with playoff chances coming down to the final week of the 2024 season.
A highly competitive AL East waters down the Rays’ win total, as they narrowly cling to the No. 3 Wild Card spot in the American League to maintain postseason status.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays (85-77) lose in AL Wild Card
/ 3 hours ago
As the confetti fell in victory lane in Daytona on the Hendrick Motorsports No....