The 2020 season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The Tampa Bay Rays roster and schedule:
Rays ROSTER (projected)
When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.
In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Rays roster to begin the season:
Most of those positions — especially the pitching staff beyond, oh, the first three starters — are sort of flexible. I mean, I have 32 guys on there right now and there will only be 30 next week, and fewer after that. But the Rays have a lot of outfielders who can play a corner or who will DH and they have completely revolutionized pitcher utilization in the past couple of years. They bullpen to beat the band and will likely bullpen even harder in this short and strange season. Expect all of these names to make tons of appearances and a lot of names not listed here to shuffle in and out of the team’s larger roster and taxi squad at various times.
Which has certainly worked for them in the past. The depth and flexibility of their roster is a big reason the Rays are coming off consecutive 90+ win seasons and a postseason run last year that had them take the Houston Astros to five games in the ALDS. With the maturation of the young talent, the front office and manager Kevin Cash’s deft deployment of their talent, and a sprint of a season in which every inch taken is more important than ever, the Rays are a pretty popular pick to do well and to go far. If the Yankees’ health falters again — and if their luck in covering for all of those injuries isn’t as good as it was in 2019 — the Rays will be poised to take the AL East crown from them. Heck, it may not even take Yankees injuries. The Rays are simply good and could just power past the Bombers, even if they’re at relatively full strength.
Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.
Rays home stands will be July 24-28 (Blue Jays, Braves), August 4-9 (Red Sox, Yankees), August 21-27 (Blue Jays, Orioles), September 4-6 (Marlins), September 10-16 (Red Sox, Nationals), and September 25-27 (Phillies).