2020 MLB – Pittsburgh Pirates @ Tampa Bay Rays Preview & Prediction

THE FACTS

When is Pittsburgh Pirates @ Tampa Bay Rays taking place? Thursday 26th March, 2020 – 21:10 (UK)

Where is Pittsburgh Pirates @ Tampa Bay Rays taking place? Tropicana Field

What is the expected weather for Pittsburgh Pirates @ Tampa Bay Rays? Rain, 24c

What television channel is Pittsburgh Pirates @ Tampa Bay Rays on? BT Sport 1 showcases MLB games in the UK so it would be useful to check their schedule

Where can I stream Pittsburgh Pirates @ Tampa Bay Rays? BT Sport subscribers can stream the match live via the BT Sport website or app in the UK / MLB.tv in the US

Where can I get tickets for Pittsburgh Pirates @ Tampa Bay Rays? https://www.mlb.com/tickets/season-tickets

What was the outcome in the last meeting? Pittsburgh Pirates 2 – 3 Tampa Bay Rays

THE TEAM NEWS

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

  • The Pirates ended the 2019 season with a 69-93 record and in last place of the NL Central and that could happen again in 2020. Their struggles were balanced, though, as they posted similar records at home (35-46) and away (34-47).
  • Pittsburgh should resist big expectations in 2020, as the Cincinnati Reds got stronger and none of the other teams in the division (Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs) got significantly weaker.
  • The biggest move made by the Bucs franchise this season came when they traded away star outfielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks, as Marte posted a .295/.342/.503 (120 OPS+) slash line. Their most notable addition was signing catcher Luke Maile, although he is unlikely to pull up any trees behind the plate. Star catcher Francisco Cervelli left in free agency.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

  • The Rays enjoyed a better-than-expected season during 2019 since they finished in second place of the AL East with a 96-66 record, good enough to claim the second AL Wild Card spot. They topped the Oakland Athletics in that one-game playoff tie, but later lost to the Houston Astros in five games.
  • Tampa Bay should have similar expectations heading into the 2020 season, as the Boston Red Sox got weaker and neither the Toronto Blue Jays nor the Baltimore Orioles look like real threats for the Rays. Repeating their efforts last season should be the benchmark for the franchise in 2020.
  • The Rays added what could potentially be a huge offensive boost when they acquired Yoshitomo Tsutsugo from Japan, as he can rack up the ball while playing either as a DH or in the outfield. However, they lost Tommy Pham in a trade with the San Diego Padres, although Hunter Renfroe came the other way in that deal. Mike Zunino and Jose Martinez should also increase the team’s offensive power.

THE PREDICTION

The Pirates got weaker during the offseason following the departure of Starling Marte and there’s a strong case to suggest they should be the weakest team in an already-competitive NL Central. Meanwhile, the Rays appear to be one of the favourites to fight for an AL Wild Card berth and they are the lone legit threat for the Yankees in the AL East after reaching the playoffs in 2019. Tampa Bay will take advantage of the fact they will open the season at home to clinch a win here.

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