Publish date:

5 RAYS

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP TAMPA BAY

They're trying a four-man rotation. It's probably gonna be a two-man rotation by the trade deadline.... There's upside in the rotation. Chris Archer will bounce back and Blake Snell has made real strides, commanding his breaking ball and fastball to both sides. He could be an All-Star.... Nate Eovaldi throws 99 but makes no adjustments. Confidence is an issue—good thing is, he won't be as scared as he was in New York, because he'll be pitching in front of 2,500 people.... Their best arm is prospect José Alvarado. Whether he can harness his arm is another question. He throws 97, 98, with a slider at 82; we'll see him by season's end.... Alex Colomé is no Kimbrel or Jansen, but he could be a closer on a contender; he's a big trade piece in July if he's pitching well.... Kevin Kiermaier showed some surprising pop last year and C.J. Cron is another power guy who can hit the ball over the fence, but otherwise the Rays aren't gonna do that very often.... When he came up, I thought Adeiny Hechavarria was gonna win a Gold Glove or two. Now I'm sure he won't. He just makes too many careless mistakes.... Wilson Ramos is a good hitter—now that he got his eyes fixed. With Evan Longoria gone, Ramos will emerge as one of the veteran leaders.... They've got a chance to be the worst team in the AL.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

The Rays traded both Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza this offseason, creating an opportunity for one of the fastest players in baseball, Mallex Smith. Smith, 24, has stolen 32 bases in 153 career games in the majors, and 251 in 446 minor league games. He's not a glorified pinch runner, either; he hit .294 coming through the Padres, Braves and Rays systems, with a .393 slugging percentage, and he draws walks—about 10% of at bats in both the minors and majors. Smith has the skills to apply that speed to winning games. He tied for the Rays' lead in steals last year with 16 in just 81 games played. With only oldsters Denard Span and Carlos Gómez in his way, Smith should be free to play every day in leftfield and become one of the top leadoff hitters in the league.

OVER / UNDER

76.5

The list of players jettisoned this offseason practically assures they won't match last year's 80 wins. With more trades to come, they won't even close to it.

THE LINEUP

1. DH

Denard Span

.326 OBP/9 HR/13 SB

2. CENTERFIELD

Kevin Kiermaier

.254 BA/18 HR/17 SB

3. THIRD BASE

Matt Duffy

.262 BA/8 HR/10 SB

4. RIGHTFIELD

Carlos Gómez

.239 BA/14 HR/15 SB

5. SECOND BASE

Brad Miller

.239 BA/14 HR/7 SB

6. CATCHER

Wilson Ramos

.260 BA/.435 SLG/15 HR

7. FIRST BASE

C.J. Cron

.445 SLG/19 HR/4 SB

8. SHORTSTOP

Adeiny Hechavarria

.252 BA/5 HR/3 SB

9. LEFTFIELD

Mallex Smith

.251 BA/4 HR/20 SB

THE STAFF

1. RH STARTER

Chris Archer

12 W/3.49 ERA/1.17 WHP

FANTASY BREAKOUT

2. RH STARTER

Jake Faria

8 W/1.34 WHP/9.2 K9

If he cut the walks (3.2 per game), Faria is a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

3. LH STARTER

Blake Snell

10 W/3.80 ERA/9.4 K9

4. RH STARTER

Nathan Eovaldi

7 W/4.06 ERA/1.30 WHP

CLOSER

Alex Colomé

33 SV/3.74 ERA/8.7 K9

THE SKIPPER

Kevin Cash