Rays squads seek glory in Dream Bracket 2

May 20th, 2020

Whenever a team is in the midst of a great season, most people wonder just how that club would fare against some of the other great all-time teams across baseball. Well, now we’ll get a chance to find out -- virtually, that is.

MLB and the makers of Out of the Park Baseball 21 worked together to unveil the MLB Dream Bracket 2: Dream Seasons. The 64-team tournament begins on Thursday and it features two all-time teams from each Major League franchise, as well as three Negro Leagues teams and the 1994 Expos.

The 2008 and '19 teams will represent the Rays in the Dream Bracket, which comes as no surprise as they are clearly the two most successful teams in franchise history.

The 2008 team won a franchise-record 97 games during the regular season and is still the only team in club history to reach the World Series. That team had it all -- timely hitting, elite defense and an outstanding pitching staff, led by a dominant bullpen.

Evan Longoria led the offensive charge, with Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Akinori Iwamura and Melvin Upton Jr. also causing damage in the lineup. On the pitching side, the Rays were led by a rotation that included James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza and a bullpen that surprised many and became one of the best in the league.

Now we’ll get to see how that team stacks up against the others in the tournament. The 2008 team will take on the '04 Red Sox in the first round. The series will be a best-of-seven and results will be available on MLB.com at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winner of the matchup will play either the 1968 Tigers or the '96 Rangers in the second round.

While the 2008 Rays will need good pitching performances against David Ortiz and the rest of that ‘04 Red Sox juggernaut, the ‘19 Rays will also have to show why they had, arguably, the best pitching staff in franchise history.

The 2019 team fell to the Astros in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, but the club won 96 games, which is the second-most in club history. Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham carried the offense throughout the season, but it was the pitching staff that led to all the success.

Charlie Morton, who signed a two-year, $30 million deal that winter, proved to be worth every penny, finishing third in AL Cy Young Award voting after posting a 3.05 ERA. Tyler Glasnow, Yonny Chirinos, Ryan Yarbrough and 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell rounded out the rotation. As a pitching staff, the Rays led the AL with a 3.65 team ERA.

That pitching staff will have its hands full, however, as they’re matched up against the 1998 Yankees, who won 114 games during the regular season and capped off a historic season with a World Series championship. The winner of the matchup will play either the ‘42 Monarchs or the 2005 White Sox in the second round.