2024 Tampa Bay Rays Preview

An extensive fantasy baseball preview of the 2024 season

2024 Tampa Bay Rays Preview

Shawn Childs is a legend in the fantasy baseball world and his advice is invaluable. A member of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn has several top-5 finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship as well as five NFBC auction championship titles under his belt. He also boasts several prominent in the high-stakes market and multiple huge DFS wins. Shawn’s process and evaluation are among the most thorough in the sport and his exclusive FPGscore metric is changing the game. This 2024 Tampa Bay Rays preview and insight is courtesy of the brilliant mind of one of the sport’s best. 


This 2024 Tampa Bay Rays Preview is courtesy of Shawn Childs. Read Shawn’s expert fantasy analysis at his Substack.


The Rays have made the postseason in five consecutive seasons, leading to one World Series appearance (2020) and two AL East titles. Over the last 16 years, Tampa has reached the playoffs nine times, with their first trip to the championship series coming in 2008. Here is the detailed fantasy baseball 2024 Tampa Bay Rays Preview.

Last season, they finished fifth in the majors in ERA (3.86) while ranking 12th in bullpen ERA (3.81). Their relievers had 44 wins, 24 losses, 45 saves, and 657 strikeouts over 658.1 innings. Their pitching staff had the best WHIP (1.177) in the majors.

Tampa scored the fourth most runs (860) with the same finish in RBIs (827). They hit 230 home runs (6th) while being active on the base paths (4th in stolen bases – 160 on 201 attempts).

The big blow to the Rays franchise over the last year was the loss of Wander Franco to an off-the-field incident. Tampa acquired IF Jose Caballero from the Mariners for OF Luke Raley to help bridge the gap at shortstop. They shipped SP Tyler Glasnow and OF Manuel Margot to the Dodgers for SP Ryan Pepiot and OF Jonny DeLuca. In a minor deal with St. Louis, the Rays added OF Richie Palacios for RP Andrew Kittredge. 

They signed Rob Brantly for catching depth and SP Naoyuki Uwasawa to compete for a starting job in their rotation. Tampa also claimed P Tyler Alexander off waivers.   

Even with offensive success in 2023, the Rays’ offense lacks star power heading into this year. OF Josh Lowe emerged last season, and 1B Yandy Diaz comes off the best year of his career, thanks to an uptick in power and elite batting average.

The Rays always find a way to get the most out of their pitching staff. Taj Bradley must add length to his starts this season, and Ryan Pepiot proves to be a viable addition to their starting rotation. The combination of CL Pete Fairbanks and RP Jason Adam were valuable arms late in games for Tampa last season; time will tell if they can repeat in 2024.

Tampa will be without SP Shane McClanahan, SP Jeffrey Springs, and SP Drew Rasmussen for most of 2024 after suffering significant elbow injuries last season.

Starting Lineup

1B Yandy Diaz

Some sharp drafters were on Diaz as a cheat third baseman in 2023. He finished 31st in FPGscore (3.25) for hitters, thanks to his edge in batting average (.330 – +3.29 fantasy points). Coming into the year, he ranked 19th in exit velocity (92.2) and 23rd in hard-hit rate (49.0) with a favorable ADP (279). His jump in average came from a career-best in his contact batting average (.401 – .339 in 2022 and .335 in his career before 2023). 

Diaz set a career-high in home runs (22), but he continued to have a groundball swing path (52.0%) with regression in his flyball rate (28.6 – 31.6 in 2022 and 32.0 in 2021). Diaz had a spike in his HR/FB rate (17.7 – 6.9 in 2022 and 9.4 in his career) thanks to a further rise in his exit velocity (93.4 – 7th) and hard-hit rate (54.2 – 9th). His launch angle (5.7) remains in a weak area, with no edge in his barrel rate (9.5 – three-year high). Diaz had a minimal change in his average hit rate (1.584), which doesn’t support 20+ home runs. His best area of growth was his RBI rate (21), but Diaz came to the plate with only 273 runners on base due to seeing all but two of his at-bats from the leadoff position and Tampa having below-par bats hitting at the backend of their lineup.

He dominated left-handed pitching (.335 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs over 121 at-bats) while also offering an advantage vs. righties (.322/73/12/46 over 404 at-bats). Diaz hit .300 or higher in every month last season. His best overall production came in April (.319/23/7/16 over 94 at-bats). He finished with a pullback in his walk rate (10.8) and strikeout rate (15.7) while still offering a winning approach.

Fantasy Outlook: In 2024, Diaz has a higher ADP (138) while being compared to the first base pool in the fantasy market. As the 77th hitter selected (13th at 1B), he would be a value draft pick if Diaz repeated his 2023 stats. I expect him to be an asset in batting average, but I can’t see him finishing anywhere close to .330, as his career contact average says he overachieved in this area in a big way. A move to clean up would make sense based on his RBI rate if Diaz can hold form in power. I’ll set his bar at .310 with 80 runs, 15 home runs, and 70 RBIs. He would be a much more valuable fantasy player with a 45% ground ball rate and a 35% flyball rate.

2B Jonathan Aranda

Over the first three seasons in the minors, Aranda had the foundation of a potential high-average bat (.276) with minimal power (four home runs over 569 at-bats) and a projectable approach (strikeout rate – 14.9 and walk rate – 9.5). After sitting out the COVID-19 season in 2020 (no minor league baseball), he pushed his way onto the major team’s radar by hitting .329 over 1,112 at-bats with 227 runs, 57 home runs, 232 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases over three seasons. His walk rate (11.5) improved in his time at AAA (12.1) while beating the league average in his strikeout rate (20.1). Aranda has 764 at-bats of experience at AAA (.329/154/43/167/6). 

Tampa Bay gave him 66 games and 165 at-bats in the majors over the past two seasons, but he only hit .212 with 23 runs, four home runs, and 19 RBIs due to a higher strikeout rate (28.4 – 30.1 in 2023). Aranda has one hit in his 13 at-bats vs. lefties with the Rays, with three walks and seven strikeouts.

His contact batting average has been higher than .420 in the minors over his last three seasons (.423, .422, and .448) but only .315 with Tampa.

Fantasy Outlook: Aranda comes to the majors with a questionable glove and limited range that may hurt his chances of being in the lineup every day for Tampa. His drawing card is his bat, and he has the skill set to get on bases over 40% of the time (.419 in 2021, .394 in 2022, and .449 in 2023). His ADP (611) in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship puts him in the free-agent pool in all redraft formats. Aranda could work his way to a platoon role at DH in 2024. He is a possible deep sleeper, and I believe his bat needs to be in the majors. 

OF Randy Arozarena

Arozarena ranked 19th in FPGscore (6.08) in 2022, thanks to his four-category skill set and career-high in at-bats (586). Last year, he slipped to 33rd in FPGscore for hitters due to a decline in value in stolen bases (22 compared to 32 in 2022) and the change of the overall value in steals in fantasy baseball due to the rule changes. 

His average hit rate (1.671) has been in a tight area since 2019 in the minors, except in 2020 with Tampa (2.278), when he had a massive power run (seven home runs) over 64 at-bats. Arozarena continues to have a decline in his contact batting average (.354 – .358 in 2022 and .404 in 2021) while lowering his strikeout rate (23.9 – 24.2 in 2022). 

Despite 74 steals over the past three seasons, he has been caught 32 times (69.8% success rate). Arozarena lost momentum against left-handed pitching (.254/22/8/18 over 118 at-bats) after holding an edge in this area in 2022 (.317 with 19 runs, six home runs, and 21 RBIs over 120 at-bats). 

His best production (.327/21/7/28/3 over 110 at-bats) came in April last season, but he only hit .236 over his final 441 at-bats with 74 runs, 16 home runs, 55 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases. Arozarena had a better swing path, highlighted a career-low in his groundball rate (43.0 – 50.7 in 2022) and career-high flyball rate (38.9 – 32.9 in 2022). He ranks 48th in exit velocity (91.7), 39th in hard-hit rate (48.3), and 48th in barrel rate (12.3).

Fantasy Outlook: Arozarena remains a steady building block for a fantasy team. He had an ADP of 47 in mid-January as the 33rd hitter selected. His RBI chances have been higher than 400 in back-to-back years (405 and 433) while grading only slightly above the league average in RBI rate (16.4 and 15.6). A better-surrounding cast in the starting lineup will help his production in runs and RBIs. His balanced skillset gives Arozarena upside in multiple categories, which all help his floor.

OF Josh Lowe

In 2022, Lowe appeared to be on the doorstep of the majors after a growth season at AAA (.291/76/22/78/26 over 402 at-bats). As expected, he made the Rays opening day roster in 2022. Unfortunately, his lack of confidence and tremendous strikeout rate (38.0) sent him back to AAA after 64 at-bats (.188 with nine runs, one home run, six RBIs, and one stolen base). His swing-and-miss approach (115 strikeouts over 302 at-bats) continued at AAA, but Lowe hit .508 when putting the ball in play. He finished the season in the minors with a .315 batting average, 51 runs, 14 home runs, 67 RBIs, and 25 steals. He struck out 32.8% of the time while maintaining a high walk rate (12.5).

Lowe made the Rays out of spring training last year, making him an excellent value in the fantasy market (FPGscore – 3.74 ~ 29th best hitter) based on his free ADP (412). His bat flashed over his first 106 at-bats (22 runs, nine home runs, 28 RBIs, and six steals). He only hit four home runs over his next 189 at-bats, with 20 runs, 27 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases while posting a low batting average (.243). Lowe played well over his final 171 at-bats (.328/29/7/28/10).

Tampa only gave him 63 at-bats vs. lefties (.238 with nine runs, two home runs, and 10 RBIs). He finished with a balanced swing path (21/40/39). His HR/FB rate (14.9) was lower than his last two seasons at AAA (18.6 in 2021 and 15.7 in 2022). Lowe has a low ranking exit velocity (89.8 – 106th) and hard-hit rate (41.6 – 118th). 

Fantasy Outlook: Lowe is the 45th-ranked batter in the early draft season in 2024 with an ADP of 80. He projects as an elite base stealer based on his success over the last three seasons (63-for-66). His approach (strikeout rate – 24.8 and walk rate – 6.2) still needs work. Tampa won’t have him in the starting lineup every day against lefties until he proves his worth. I expect a pullback in batting average and RBIs while offering a 25/35 combined of home runs and steals.

OF Brandon Lowe

After a breakout season in runs (97), home runs (39), and RBIs (99), Lowe missed 150 games over the following two years.

In 2021, his season started with a .212 batting average over 118 at-bats with 20 runs, five home runs, and 12 RBIs) before landing on the injured list for two months. Lowe also struggled after returning to the starting lineup (.231/11/3/13 over 117 at-bats). A triceps issue knocked him out of action in August, followed by an injection in his back in September, ending his year. 

Last season, Lowe hit .205 over his first 176 at-bats with 26 runs, nine home runs, 29 RBIs, and three stolen bases, putting him on a reasonable pace in counting stats. His back flared up again in early June, leading to a month on the injured list. He was more productive over his last 210 at-bats (.248/32/12/39/4) before suffering a kneecap injury, ending his season with eight games remaining. Lowe offered no value against lefties (.170/7/1/8 over 53 at-bats).

He continues to have a favorable walk rate (11.5), but Lowe posted a four-year high in his strikeout rate (27.3). His swing path remains flyball favoring (44.8% – 42.8% in his career). Lowe graded well in his exit velocity (91.4 – 43rd) and hard-hit rate (47.5 – 45th).

Fantasy Outlook: Back injuries can be tricky, and Lowe still hasn’t had surgery to fix his issue. His ADP (270) in the NFBC is 91 spots higher than in 2022 (179) and 97 picks higher than in 2021 (82). Lowe barrels up many balls when healthy, leading to an edge in home runs. In three of his last four seasons, his RBI rate (18) has been in the middle-of-the-order area. To gain more at value year, his bat has to show more life vs. lefties. Pretty much low-average power at second base with injury risk.

3B Isaac Paredes

Over six seasons in the minors, Paredes hit .271 with 56 home runs, 294 RBI, and 13 steals over 1,898 at-bats. He had two seasons of experience at AAA (.264/83/16/88/6 over 609 at-bats). His strikeout rate (13.4) was a plus in the minors while having a favorable walk rate (10.6). In 2021 at AAA, Paredes posted the highest average hit rate (1.701) of his career.

In 2022, Tampa gave him the best opportunity in the majors, leading to more power (20 home runs over 331 at-bats) than expected. His approach (strikeout rate – 17.6 and walk rate – 11.6) graded well with the Rays while posting a new top in his average hit rate (2.118). Paredes finished with a meager contact batting average (.258 – .321 in his minor league career), highlighted by his weak line drive rate (12.4). His flyball swing path (45.5%) produced an incredibly high number of infield flies (14.9%).

Once again, the Rays found a player with a higher ceiling than initially expected. Paredes set a career-high in runs (71), home runs (31), and RBIs (98) in 2023 while having repeated strength in his average hit rate (1.951). His contacting average (.317) approached his minor league career, leading to a rebound in batting average. Paredes has an above-average approach (strikeout rate – 18.2 and walk rate – 10.2). His flyball rate (47.0) was a new top with repeated weakness infield flies (19.7%). There was a minimal change in his HR/FB rate (16.9).

On the downside, his exit velocity (86.9 – 224th) and hard-hit rate (28.5 – 242nd) didn’t support his power surge. Paredes only had 23 barrels last year, so his home run total (31) was driven by launch angle (22.2%). He profiles as a dead pull hitter. 

Fantasy Outlook: Paredes has a winning approach, and his power production last year pushed his ADP to 183 (335 in 2022) in the early draft season in the high-stakes market. He can’t reach a higher ceiling in batting average without losing some of his easy outs via infield flyballs. This year, I would pay attention to his exit velocity in spring training to see if Paredes worked on getting stronger over the winter. He sits on fastballs and drives tumbling sliders into the seats. On the improve, and his RBI rate (17) last year showed more clutch ability. Think 20/80 with some batting average risk while hoping for further improvement.

OF Jose Siri

The Reds signed Siri at age 17 out of the Dominican Republic. Over 10 seasons in the minors, he hit .272 with 455 runs, 93 home runs, 365 RBIs, and 181 stolen base over 2,674 at-bats. Siri had a breakthrough season in 2017 at A Ball, leading to a .293 batting average over 598 at-bats with 92 runs, 24 home runs, 76 RBIs, and 46 stolen bases. 

With about an entire season of at-bats (535) at AAA over three years, Siri hit .287 with 97 runs, 25 home runs, 98 RBIs, and 31 steals. His walk rate (7.0) fell below the league average while having a high strikeout rate (30.8). 

Over the last three seasons with Houston and Tampa, he struck out 255 times over 738 plate appearances (34.6%). Siri hit .223 over this span with 121 runs, 36 home runs, 89 RBIs, and 29 stolen bases over 685 at-bats. 

His defense keeps in the game, and last year, he set career-highs in runs (58), home runs (25) and RBIs (56). His average hit rate (2.227) shows a higher ceiling in home runs if Tampa gives him more playing time. He hit only .198 vs. lefties with five home runs and 14 RBIs over 86 at-bats.

Fantasy Outlook: Siri has an intriguing power/speed skill set but can’t stay in the majors without making better contact. This draft season in the NFBC, Siri comes off the board as the 67th outfielder with an ADP of 288. His path to the majors resembles Teoscar Hernandez’s while offering a weaker approach. Swing-and-miss batters have job loss risk, so I would be careful not to lock in on him. Siri hit .211 over his final 236 at-bats last season, with 36 runs, 15 home runs, 34 RBIs, and seven steals.

C Rene Pinto

Pinto appears to be a placeholder for Tampa at catcher based on his limited action in the majors at age 27 and weakness in his career resume. Over nine seasons in the minors, he hit .276 with 286 runs, 67 home runs, 323 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases over 2,071 at-bats. His bat has improved over his three seasons at AAA (.273/89/35/113/4 over 629 at-bats).

In his two seasons with Tampa over limited at-bats (183), Pinto hit .235 with 15 runs, eight home runs, and 26 RBIs. Unfortunately, he struck out 36.7% of the time with weakness in his walk rate (2.1). He has yet to hit a major league home run off a left-handed pitcher over 35 at-bats.

Fantasy Outlook: Without a significant improvement in his approach, Pinto won’t have a long lifeline in the majors. He hits for a high average when putting the ball in play, and his average hit rate supports 20+ home runs if given 450 at-bats. He ranks 31st at catcher in the early draft season in the NFBC with an ADP of 387. 

SS Junior Caminero

The Guardians signed Caminero out of the Dominican Republic at age 15 in 2019. Tampa acquired him in a trade in 2021. Over three seasons in the minors, he hit .316 with 148 runs, 51 home runs, 178 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases over 845 at-bats. Last year, his bat played well at High-A (.356/30/11/32/2) over 146 at-bats while thriving as well at AA (.309/55/20/62/3 over 314 at-bats). His walk rate (8.9) and strikeout rate (18.0) beat the league average over his minor league career.

Tampa gave Caminero 34 at-bats of experience in the majors at age 19, leading to one home run and seven RBIs. He had some fade in his approach (strikeout rate – 22.2 and walk rate – 5.6).

Fantasy Outlook: Caminero doesn’t project well as a shortstop long-term, pointing to a move to third base or the outfield down the road. Tampa tends to move their prospects slowly, but his bat may be needed in 2024 with Wander Franco out of the shortstop mix for the Rays. His power looks real, and he has the approach to support a winning batting average. His ADP (223) in the high-stakes market suggests he’ll have a full-time starting job for Tampa in 2024.

Bench Options

DH Harold Ramirez

With no power in his early minor league swing, Ramirez needed to repeat AA for three straight years (.298 with 19 home runs, 173 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases over 1,290 at-bats). In 2019, his bat improved at AAA (.355 with four home runs and 14 RBIs over 110 at-bats), which led to his first major experience. In 2019, he hit .292 with 73 runs, 15 home runs, and 64 RBI over 531 at-bats. 

Over the past two seasons, Ramirez had 803 at-bats with Tampa, leading to a .295 batting average with 137 runs, 25 home runs, 167 RBIs, and 11 steals. His RBI rate (20) graded well over the past three years, with an uptick in his contact batting average (.366) in 2022 and 2023 (.389). On the downside, his average hit rate in the majors has been below 1.55 each season.

Ramirez has a low walk rate (5.1) while keeping his strikeout rate (18.2) in a favorable area. His low launch angle (6.1) produces a ton of groundballs (54.7% – 54.5 in his career). Tampa should give him as many at-bats as possible vs. lefties (.387/18/4/13 over 119 at-bats) based on his success last season. Ramirez hit higher than .300 in four different months last year.

Fantasy Outlook: The Rays will micromanage Ramirez this season, putting him on a path to receive 400 at-bats. He makes contact, but less than 30% of his balls in play have flyball loft. Over the past three seasons, he barreled only 49 balls (18, 16, and 15).

2B Jose Caballero

Caballero barely played over his first five seasons in the minors (.291 with 144 runs, 17 home runs, 94 RBIs, and 66 stolen bases over 740 at-bats) while only seeing 20 at-bats at AA in 2021. Injuries in Seattle and a hot start at AAA (9-for-27 with eight runs, two home runs, nine RBIs, and five steals) led to him earning his first trip to the majors at age 26. 

He had an excellent approach in his minor league career (walk rate – 13.0 and strikeout rate – 15.6). With the Mariners, he struck out 23.6% of the time with a dismal contact batting average (.224). Caballero did take his fair share of walks (10.0%). His speed (26 steals) played well in the majors with better success vs. left-handed pitching (.265/20/2/7 over 102 at-bats) than against righties (.186/17/2/19 over 129 at-bats).

His exit velocity (83.3) and hard-hit rate (23.7) ranked at the bottom of the league, but he did hit flyballs (47.9% – launch angle – 21.5).

Fantasy Outlook: Other than steals, Caballero doesn’t offer starting fantasy value in the fantasy market. His approach should improve with experience, but Tampa will only use him in a platoon role if he makes the roster.  

3B Curtis Mead

Mead is an Australian import who the Phillies drafted in 2018 at age 17. Over five seasons in the minors, he hit .300 with 188 runs, 41 home runs, 191 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases over 1,116 at-bats. He has yet to have more than 415 at-bats in a season. Mead saw action over three seasons at AAA (.296/52/13/61/5 over 321 at-bats). His walk rate (9.4) and strikeout rate (16.2) were better than the league average in his minor league career.

He missed time in 2022 with a right elbow injury. Mead took a pitch to his left wrist at AAA last season, costing him about seven weeks. Tampa called him up in August, but he failed to make an impact over 36 at-bats (.250/7/0/2 with five walks and 13 strikeouts). In his second stint in the majors, Mead had 14 hits over 53 at-bats with five runs, one home run, and four RBIs.

Fantasy Outlook: Mead hits the ball hard, setting the stage for a productive average bat with more upside in power as he fills out. His defense won’t be an edge at any position, so the Rays may push him to first base if his production can support that position down the road. He’ll be found in the free-agent pool in all redraft formats, but his bat appears ready for the majors. An injury to Brandon Lowe could be a win for his opportunity.

OF Richie Palacios

Over four seasons in the minors, Palacios hit .288 over 1,079 at-bats with 208 runs, 25 home runs, 173 RBIs, and 48 stolen bases. He has three years of experience at AAA (.266/129/13/107/31 over 666 at-bats). His walk rate (13.5) has top-of-the-order upside while minimizing the damage in strikeouts (15.6%).

St. Louis gave him 205 at-bats of experience over the past two seasons, but Palacios only hit .244 with 16 runs, six home runs, 26 RBIs, and four steals. 

Fantasy Outlook: In his time in the minors, he saw action at 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, and RF. Palacios lacks a true position, suggesting only a part-time player for Tampa this year if he makes it to the majors. At best, he is only a short-term injury replacement if he is getting starting at-bats.

Starting Pitching

SP Zach Eflin

Eflin teased fantasy managers with his low walk rate (1.7) and improved strikeout rate (8.8) from 2020 to 2022. In his six years with the Phillies, he has never allowed fewer hits than innings pitched (.272 BAA) while continuing to battle home runs (1.3 per nine). 

In 2022, Eflin did a better job keeping the ball in the ballpark (eight home runs over 75.2 innings) while being more challenging to hit (.241 BAA). Three disaster starts (16 runs, 26 baserunners, and one home run) over his first eight games led to a 4.60 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 43 innings). After a mediocre June (3.96 ERA), Eflin landed on the injured list for 11 weeks with a kneecap injury. He finished the season with 7.2 productive innings (1.17 ERA with no walks and nine strikeouts) out of the bullpen.

The Rays unlocked the keys to his arm last year. Eflin led the American League in wins (16) while setting career bests in innings (177.2), batting average against (.235 BAA), ERA (3.50), WHIP (1.024), and strikeouts (186). He allowed three runs or fewer in 24 of his 31 starts while pitching at least six innings in 19 games. His arm progressed against lefties (.210 with nine home runs over 328 at-bats).

His average fastball (93.1) was his lowest since 2016. Eflin continued to have a plus curveball (.189 BAA – .197 in his career). Tampa bumped up the usage with his cutter (.300 BAA), but it wasn’t an asset. He featured three low-volume pitches (four-seamer – .104 BAA, slider – .189 BAA, and changeup – .207 BAA), with a minimal edge with his sinker (.259 BAA). Eflin walked only 1.2 batters per nine innings while upping his strikeout rate (9.4).

Fantasy Outlook: Eflin will be treated as SP2 in 15-team leagues in the high-stake market. His ADP (87) ranks him as the 26th starter drafted. Buy the edge in WHIP, but he hasn’t pitched more than 106 innings over his previous three seasons. Regression should be expected, and his ride in wins won’t go as well this year. Eflin was the eighth-best pitcher in 2023 in FPGscore (5.46).

SP Aaron Civale

Civale reached a higher level over his first 15 starts in 2021 (10-2 with a 3.32 ERA and 76 strikeouts over 97.2 innings). Unfortunately, a finger injury led to two and a half months on the injury list. When he returned in September, Civale had three disaster starts (16 runs and 22 baserunners over 10 innings) due to nine home runs allowed. His walk rate (2.2) remained an edge, but his strikeout rate (7.2) was well below the top arms in baseball. 

In 2022, Civale didn’t appear healthy over his seven starts (27 runs, 47 baserunners, and six home runs over 31 innings), leading to a trip to the injured list for a month with a thigh injury. Five starts later (3.91 ERA and .292 BAA), he was back on the shelf with a right wrist issue. Civale finished the season with a productive eight starts (3.35 ERA, .186 BAA, and 46 strikeouts over 43 innings), but he did miss another 22 days with inflammation in his right forearm.

After two starts (four runs over 12.2 innings with eight strikeouts) in 2023 for Cleveland, Civale was out of action for almost two months with an oblique injury. His arm was an edge over his next 11 games (4-1 with a 2.24 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, .203 BAA, and 50 strikeouts over 64.1 innings). He lost value over his first six starts (3.82 ERA) for the Rays, followed by more fade in his final four outings (seven runs, 23 baserunners, and five home runs over 14.2 innings). 

He features a cutter (.267 BAA – 87.8 MPH) as his top usage pitch (37.3%) while relying on a curveball (.182 BAA), sinker (.194 BAA), and four-seam fastball (.356 BAA). His average fastball sits in the 92.0 mph range. He had almost the same success against righties (.237 BAA) and lefties (.234 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: His strikeout rate (11.5) was more robust over his limited innings for the Rays, which may hint a better arm in 2024. Injuries have been a problem over the last three seasons, and a huddle Civale must get over it to offer more value in the fantasy market. His ADP (201) shows his potential, but he can’t be a winning selection without more length to his innings. Player of interest, especially if he falls past his early price point. I expect him to help in ERA and WHIP. 

SP Taj Bradley

Bradley struggled with his command (3.8 walks per nine) over his time at rookie ball (3.77 ERA and 81 strikeouts over 74 innings). Like Shane Baz, he was a much better pitcher after receiving a year off in 2020. Over 23 games between A and High A in 2021, Bradley went 12-3 with a 1.83 ERA and 123 strikeouts over 103.1 innings. In 2022, Bradley made 28 starts between AA and AAA, leading to a 2.57 ERA and 141 strikeouts over 133.1 innings. 

Last year was expected to be a progression season, with Bradley helping Tampa at some point. Unfortunately, his arm was a disaster at AAA (6.45 ERA) due to poor command (4.8 walks per nine) and home runs (nine over 37.2 innings). Tampa called him up on April 12th, where Bradley teased over three appearances (3-0 with six runs, 12 hits, two walks, and 23 strikeouts). The Rays sent him back to AAA, and his arm was worthless over the remainder of the year (6.15 ERA, 1.508 WHIP, and 29 home runs over 120 innings with 135 strikeouts) between the minors and majors. 

His command (3.4 walks and 11.1 strikeouts) was better with Tampa, but Bradley allowed 2.0 home runs per nine innings. Right-handed batters hit .282 against him with 17 home runs over 209 at-bats. 

His average fastball (96.0) had plenty of velocity but not in success (.282 with 19 home runs over 273 at-bats). His curveball (.162 BAA) and split-finger fastball (.183 BAA) grade as elite pitches. Bradley had too many losing days with his cutter (.295 BAA with 10 home runs over 139 at-bats). 

Fantasy Outlook: Based on last season, any fantasy drafter should run and hide when considering his arm. Even with his lousy showing at AAA last season, Bradley has a 3.02 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, and 382 strikeouts over his 348.1 innings in the minors. His ADP (255) in the early draft season in the high-stakes market seems pricy based on his poor results in 2023. He checks multiple boxes in his scouting report (elite fastball and a high upside slider/cutter). These two assets let him down last year, inviting self-doubt and poor command. With a fresh start and more strikes thrown, Bradley has the secondary pitches to kick in the fantasy door in 2024. His results in spring training are critical to my level of interest. 

SP Ryan Pepiot

The Dodgers added Pepiot in the third round of the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft after an up-and-down college career (14-8 with a 3.61 ERA and 306 strikeouts over 219.1 innings). Over his first two seasons in the minors, he battled his command (60 walks over 124.2 innings – 4.3 per nine innings), leading to weakness in his ERA (4.11) and WHIP (1.275). 

Pepiot threw more strikes at AAA in 2022, setting up a breakthrough season (9-1 with a 2.56 ERA, 1.073 WHIP, and 114 strikeouts over 91.1 innings). The Dodgers called him up for a long relief stint in May (3.18 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, and 13 strikeouts over 11.1 innings), but he issued 11 walks. Pepiot flashed in a spot start in July (one run over five innings with six strikeouts), followed by a 4.05 ERA and 23 strikeouts over his final 20 innings. In the end, he was challenging to hit (.200 BAA), but home runs (6) and walks (6.7 per nine) were a significant issue.

Last year, Pepiot was expected to offer buy-and-hold value in the fantasy market, but he suffered an oblique injury at the end of March. He didn’t make his AAA debut until July 14th. After an elite start (no runs and one hit over six innings with 11 strikeouts), the Dodgers called him up on August 19th. Despite allowing seven home runs over 42 innings, Pepiot pitched at a higher level (2.14 ERA and 0.762 WHIP) than expected. His improved command (1.1 walks per nine) is a sign of a rising arm if repeated.

His average fastball (94.2) came in just above the league average. Pepiot brings a plus changeup (.210 BAA), and his four-seamer (.204 BAA) graded well. He threw a cutter (.233 BAA) as his third pitch with Los Angeles over the past two seasons.

Fantasy Outlook: Pepiot will compete for a starting job for the Rays. His arsenal has a high ceiling based on his batting average against (.189) in the majors. He comes off the board at pick 195 in early January in the NFBC. Tampa will give him chances to start, but Pepiot has never pitched more than 127 innings in any season. Sneaky upside, but a short body of work on his career resume.

SP Shane Baz

Looking back on the Rays Chris Archer trade with the Pirates in July of 2018, it seems almost criminal to think Tampa landed SP Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz. Pittsburgh drafted Baz with the 12th selection in the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft out of high school. Over two seasons at rookie ball at age 18 and 19, he went 4-8 with a 4.26 ERA, 1.645 WHIP, and 78 strikeouts over 76 innings. Baz flashed in 2019 at A ball (2.99 ERA over 81.1 innings with 87 strikeouts), but he still walked 4.1 batters per nine.

After a year off due to no minor league baseball, Baz became a strike-throwing machine at AA (two walks over 32.2 innings) and AAA (11 walks over 46 innings), leading to a massive jump in his arm. He finished with a 2.06 ERA, 0.801 WHIP, and 113 strikeouts over 78.2 innings. In September, Tampa even gave him three starts when Baz repeated his success (2.03 ERA over 13.1 innings with three walks and 18 strikeouts).

In 2022, Baz had right elbow surgery in late March. He returned to the mound with Tampa on June 11th. After a poor showing (five runs and six baserunners over 2.1 innings), he gave fantasy teams hope over his next 22.1 innings (1.21 ERA with six walks and 26 strikeouts). Unfortunately, the Reds lit him up for seven runs, eight hits, and three home runs over 2.1 innings, leading to TJ surgery in September. 

His average fastball (96.0) was down 1.2 MPH. He threw his slider (.200 BAA) 37.2% of the time. Baz has less success with his four-seamer (.290 BAA) and curveball (.357 BAA) while having success with low-volume changeup (.200 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: Baz has a bright future, but he’s never thrown over 95 innings in a season. He pitched over five innings in only two of his 20 appearances in 2021 while never throwing over 75 pitches. Tampa allowed him to throw 94 and 95 pitches in two of his six starts in 2022. He’ll have more than 18 months of recovery time before the start of the season, putting Baz on track to be ready for opening day. His ADP (198) is a bet on his arm while not thinking through his opportunity. His inning will be capped, and wins will be challenging due to his early exits.

SP Mason Montgomery

Tampa added Montgomery in the sixth round of the 2021 June MLB Amateur Draft. He dominated over 10.2 innings at rookie ball (0.84 ERA, one walk, and 20 strikeouts). Montgomery went 6-3 between High A and AA the following season with 171 strikeouts over 124.0 innings. 

Last year, his arm lost value at AA (4.18 ERA) due to a higher walk rate (4.3). Montgomery handled himself well in four starts at AAA (2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 16.2 innings) despite walking 11 batters.

He has a live low-90 fastball that he locates well. His secondary pitches aren’t at the major league at this point of his career.

Fantasy Outlook: The Rays should start him out at AAA this season, giving him a chance at reaching the majors over the summer.

SP Naoyuki Uwasawa

Over 11 seasons in Japan, Uwasawa went 78-80 with a 3.42 ERA and 1,094 strikeouts over 1,367.1 innings. His best season came in 2021 when he went 12-6 with a 2.81 ERA and 135 strikeouts over 160.1 innings. Uwasawa pitched a minimum of 160 innings in three consecutive years.

Uwasawa works off a low-90s fastball that he throws about 40% of the time. Depending on his matchup, he’ll work off a curveball, slider, split-finger fastball, and cutter to keep batters off balance. His walk rate (2.2 in 2023 and 2.9 in his career) has improved since 2017. Last year, Uwasawa struck out only 6.6 batters per nine (7.2 in his career), but he did post a 2.96 ERA over 170.0 innings.

Fantasy Outlook: I view him as a serviceable arm, and Tampa should give him some starts this year. He won’t be drafted in fantasy leagues over the winter. His best asset should be his durability based on his innings count over the past few seasons.


CL Pete Fairbanks

After struggling as a starter at A ball in 2016 (4.88 ERA), Fairbanks blew out his right elbow the following season, leading to TJ surgery. In 2019, over four levels of the minors, he showcased a jump in his strikeout rate (14.4) with excellent command (2.5 walks per nine). Despite this success, his ERA (4.53) didn’t come along for the ride.

Over the last four seasons with Tampa, he went 11-13 with a 2.66, 201 strikeouts, and 38 saves over 138.2 innings. His walk rate was a problem in 2020 (4.7), 2021 (4.4), and 2023 (4.0), but he found the foundation of command (three walks) in 2022 over his 24 innings. 

Fairbanks finished 2022 with no runs allowed over 22 innings with 36 strikeouts, eight saves, and five holds. He missed the first 91 games of the year with a lingering lat injury. The previous season, right shoulder inflammation cost him almost the whole month of August. In addition, Fairbanks left his last postseason start in 2022 with numbness in his hand.

In 2023, he went on the injured list in early May with a right forearm issue. Later in the month, Fairbanks again landed on the injured list with a hip injury, leading to him pitching only 16.1 innings over the first three months of the season. After the All-Star break, he has a 3.21 ERA, 51 strikeouts, and 16 saves over 28.0 innings. 

His average fastball (98.8) remains elite. Batters rarely made hard contact with his slider (.161 BAA) and four-seamer (.144 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: Fairbanks dominated with his best two pitches over the past two years. A star was born when an elite walk rate was added in 2022. Unfortunately, he didn’t repeat his command last year while adding a couple of more injuries to his resume. His ADP (93) is much higher in 2024, especially for an arm that has never pitched 50.0 innings in the majors. I view him as a risk/reward arm that should be an asset when on the mound.

RP Jason Adam

After 10 dull seasons in the minors (45-54 with a 4.02 ERA and 719 strikeouts over 592.2 innings) and empty stats from 2018 to 2021 in the majors (6-4 with a 4.71 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 78.1 innings), the Rays turned this dirt devil into a pot of gold. Adam pitched like a top-tier closer without a stockpile of saves in 2022. Batters hit .147 with a shallow slugging percentage (.242). His walk rate (2.4 – 4.5 in his major league career) improved significantly, with plenty of life in his strikeout rate (10.7). 

Last season, Adam pitched well but not at the same elite level. He issued more walks (3.3 per nine) with more damage in home runs (1.2 per nine – 0.7 in 2022). The Rays had him on the mound for only 56 games due to missing most of the season’s final six weeks with an oblique injury. 

Adam pitched well vs. righties (.196 BAA) and lefties (.167 BAA) for the second consecutive year. His average fastball (94.7) was a tick below 2022 (95.1). Batters had no chance vs. slider (.097 BAA), and his changeup (.181 BAA) also dominated. His four-seamer (.234 BAA) graded as an asset. 

Fantasy Outlook: I expected Adam to outperform Pete Fairbanks as the Rays closer last year due to Fairbanks having a long history of injuries. He finished with 12 saves with a solid season, but the gap between the two appears wider in 2024. Adam has an ADP of 307 in mid-January, making him a viable buy as an upside closer in waiting while almost being a must-handcuff.

RP Kevin Kelly

Over three seasons in the minors, Kelly went 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA, 181 strikeouts, and 13 saves over 130.2 innings. His arm progressed in 2022 between AA and AAA (5-2 with a 2.04 ERA and 75 strikeouts over 57.1 innings). In his time in the minors, he had an excellent combination of walk rate (2.2) and strikeout rate (12.5). 

Last year, Kelly made the Rays’ bullpen after pitching well in spring training. He looks overmatched over his first 21.1 innings (12 runs and 30 baserunners with 17 strikeouts). Over the next two months, Kelly didn’t allow a run over 20.1 innings with six hits, 17 strikeouts, and six holds. His season ended with five bad days (11 runs and 18 base runners over 6.1 innings) over his final 21 appearances (3.91 ERA, .214 BAA, and 22 strikeouts over 25.1 innings).

His average fastball (91.9) was below the league average and not ideal for closing games. Batters did struggle to hit his sinker (.216 BAA) and slider (.202 BAA), but his cutter (.314 BAA) was a liability. Kelly had the same success against righties (.211 BAA) and lefties (.211). His missing link with Tampa was a much lower strikeout rate (7.5), but he did throw strikes (2.0 walks per nine).

Fantasy Outlook: Kelly brings a side-winding approach to Tampa’s bullpen, and he should improve in his second year in the majors. In 2022, his pitches didn’t play as well in the minors vs. left-handed batters (.275 BAA). The Rays fixed the issue in 2023 at the expense of his strikeout ability. In his rookie season, Kelly also had a wide home/road split in ERA (1.77/4.60). 


This 2024 Tampa Bay Rays Preview is courtesy of Shawn Childs. Read Shawn’s expert fantasy analysis at his Substack.

About Shawn Childs 970 Articles
Shawn Childs has been a high stakes Fantasy baseball and football player since 2004 where he had success in his first season (three titles and $25,000 in winnings). In early years of the high stakes market in Fantasy baseball, he was ahead of the curve in player evaluation, draft value, and free agent bidding setting up four top-five finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has four AL-only Auction titles, one NL-only title, and five Main Event titles plus an overall title in 2012 at RTFBC (netted $10,000). This success led to an induction into the NFBC Baseball Hall of Fame. His success in the high stakes market led to a career in providing Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football content. On the football side, he’s competed and won in all different formats – auctions, draft championship, main events, and high-dollar leagues. He won 2nd place overall in the 2014 Most Accurate Salary Cap Expert contest at FantasyPros. As a dual-sport player, it was natural to transition to the daily games where he is a “swing for the fences type of guy.” Childs has appeared in one FanDuel NFL Live Final and one DraftKings NFL Live Final, a season-ending tournament which led to a couple of chances to win over $1,000,000.