Tampa Bay Rays Among Early Favorites In MLB Futures Market

Written By Steve Schult on March 22, 2022 - Last Updated on May 25, 2022
Tampa Bay Rays

With MLB spring training officially underway, the Tampa Bay Rays have emerged as one of the betting world’s favorites.

Despite a grim outlook for most of the dispute, MLB’s lockout was shorter than the lifespan of Florida’s sports betting market. As a result, the standard 162-game season remains intact for 2022.

With a full slate of games on the docket, sports bettors gravitated towards the Rays, who typically lack star power. Instead, the squad from St. Petersburg generally relies on a complete team effort to win games.

The Rays are anywhere between +1,400 and +1,600, depending on the sportsbook, to win the 2022 World Series. Only seven teams in all Major League Baseball have better odds to win it all.

But most of those teams are in the National League, as Tampa Bay is just a slightly worse price to win the AL Pennant.

The Rays are listed as a +650 moneyline wager to represent the AL in the World Series. They are behind the Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Operators believe the Tampa Bay Rays won’t match their win total from 2021

Tampa is coming off a 2021 season where they won 100 games and the AL East. However, they had an early exit in October after losing in the AL Division Series to the Boston Red Sox.

Despite triple-digit wins and a division title last year, they aren’t the favorites to repeat. This year, most top online sportsbooks have them listed as +250 to win the AL East. That is ahead of the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles but behind the Blue Jays and Yankees.

Furthermore, sportsbooks believe their win total in 2022 will fall off from last year’s success. The over/under on the Rays’ 2022 win total is 89.5.

But the handful of operators spreading props on whether the Rays will make the playoffs believe they are a favorite to be playing October baseball.

The ‘Yes’ on Tampa making the playoffs is -210. On the other hand, the ‘No’ is +170.

How much will Tyler Glasnow’s injury affect the Tampa Bay Rays?

Last year, Rays’ ace Tyler Glasnow was in the process of breaking out as a dominant starting pitcher.

Through 88 innings, the 27-year-old posted a 2.66 ERA with a whopping 123 strikeouts before a UCL tear sidelined him for the rest of the year. His absence for the second half of the season was a major factor in their first-round exit from the 2021 playoffs.

To make matters worse for the Rays, the UCL tear resulted in the dreaded Tommy John surgery, which will likely keep Glasnow sidelined until the 2023 season. I can’t help but think that if Glasnow was able to be healthy for 2022, the Rays would be the odds-on favorite to win the AL East this year.

Luckily for Rays fans, the organization historically does a fantastic job developing talent and has a handful of young arms that could fill the absurdly large shoes of the 6’8” Glasnow.

Shane McClanahan is one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball and has the pedigree to fill that void. He was a first-round draft pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and played his first full major league season last year.

In his first full season with the big club, McClanahan posted a 3.43 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 123.1 innings.

Manager Kevin Cash is notorious for not letting his starters go deep into games and go through the more than twice. Therefore, only eight of the southpaw’s starts went longer than five innings. If McClanahan can take the next step in his evolution as a pitcher, his impact could ease the pain of losing Glasnow for the entire season.

Can the bullpen replicate its elite numbers?

Since Cash was never keen on allowing the opposing lineup to see his starter for the third time, he relied on his bullpen more than most managers did.

But the bullpen was up to the challenge and produced at an elite level. The Rays’ bullpen posted a 3.24 ERA while posting a cumulative record of 58-32 and notching 42 saves.

However, the Rays lack an established back-end arm that will consistently close out games. Instead, Cash opted to play matchups and allow several different pitchers to finish games. It was a nightmare for fantasy baseball owners looking for saves, but it was quite a dream situation for Rays fans.

Will Wander Franco live up to the hype?

Last November, Tampa Bay signed 21-year-old shortstop Wander Franco to an astounding 11-year, $185 million contract.

It was an unprecedented move from an organization that typically shies away from offering massive deals. Especially to someone who only has 70 big league games under his belt.

But Franco is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. In 2018, at just 17 years old, Franco recorded a slash line of .375/.445/.636 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in the Appalachian League. Those numbers were good enough to win the Player of the Year award.

Heading into the 2019 season, the 18-year-old was ranked the fourth-best prospect in the game by Baseball America. He was named to the 2019 All-Star Futures game and finished the season with a slash line of .315/.367/.586.

Franco didn’t get to play in 2020 since the minor league season was canceled in the wake of the pandemic. But he didn’t miss a step when he was back on the field in 2021. He played 39 games for the Durham Bulls, the Rays Triple-A affiliate, before getting the call up to the big leagues.

In 70 games last season, Franco hit .288 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs. Franco is projected to play shortstop and hit second this season.

If he continues to improve and reaches anything close to his ceiling, the Rays could actually get the better side of the contract in hindsight.

Photo by AP Photo / Mike Carlson
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Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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