The key player that I’m watching in this game is Wander Franco, the Rays’ young shortstop. Franco seemed on his way to stardom before a hamate injury led to surgery and a prolonged rehab assignment with unexpected setbacks. He returned from the IL on September 9, but did not hit a home run in September. This is not unusual, as wrist injuries are known to sap power.
In the Rays’ second-to-last game of the year against the Red Sox, Franco finally hit a solo shot, breaking his home run drought. He is the type of player who could get hot and transform a postseason by carrying a team. If he is completely healthy and his power is returning, this could be a completely different Rays team than the Guardians have seen previously this season.