So… The Rays or the Mariners?
As we just talked about, health is a major key when talking about the Rays chances of being a true threat to the Seattle Mariners. Anytime a baseball hitter has an injury that is connected to his wrist, it is very concerning. In 8 games in Spring Training, Franco looked healthy, brought the level of star power that has him in WBC, and was primed for a big season.
While Franco's health is encouraging, the health of Glasnow continues to be discouraging. Last week Glasnow was diagnosed with an oblique strain, and will be out for 6-8 weeks. Considering he'll be out almost two months before really getting ramped up, it could be a long time until Tampa Bay sees him on the mound. While Tampa is viewed as a deep pitching staff, there's definitely something to missing your #2 starter for a third of the season.
Despite the potential loss of Glasnow for an extended period of time, I still view this team as a serious threat to the Mariners, more so than teams like the Rangers and Angels. While the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Orioles are getting a lot of love, and the Red Sox are getting buried, the Rays are going to be quietly good.
When comparing Tampa to the Mariners, I think there's a lot of similarities. Really good rotations, solid bullpens, above average depth, and a rising superstar to lead them. When sizing these teams up for a potential ALDS or ALCS series, I think that the rotation of Seattle's is two starters stronger than Tampa's, maybe even three if Glasnow is not playing. I also feel more confident in an offensive core of Julio, France, Suarez and Hernandez over the trio of Franco, Diaz and Arozarena.
While Tampa and their style truly makes me nervous, I still believe the Mariners are the better team, and will come out victorious.