With a heavily shortened 2020 season, the Texas Rangers are among the clubs who could benefit heavily in the planned setup.
The Texas Rangers’ 2020 season is set to get underway in just a couple of short weeks, almost four months later than Opening Day was originally scheduled. In a somewhat twisted fate for Rangers’ fans, Nolan Arenado will be in Arlington on July 24th to open Globe Life Field alongside his Colorado Rockies teammates. That three-game series will be the starting shot kicking off a sprint of season that sees a normal 162-game campaign condensed into 60 games played over a two and a half month span.
For the Texas Rangers, a shortened season could put them in a strong position to snag a Wild Card spot. In the 60-game campaign, essentially every game carries more weight than the games of a traditional season would. Playoff position races are expected to be tighter than ever with each divisional race likely to have multiple suitors come the home stretch of September. That intense, late-season battle will only be intensified by the AL West schedule the Texas Rangers will play. In the final month of the season, Texas will play 26 games in 27 days with 24 of those games against AL West rivals. The breakdown of the AL West matchups is as follows…
- Angels: 7 games (four road, three home)
- Astros: 10 games (six road, four home)
- Athletics: 3 games (all home)
- Mariners: 4 games (all road)
The two non-AL West games will be a two game road set against the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 22 and 23, a stop as the Rangers travel back to host the Astros after a road series against the Angels. The September stretch does no favors to Texas either in terms of travel. They start the month in Houston and then travel immediately to Seattle for a four game series. That series ends on Monday, September 8 and on Tuesday, the Rangers are back in Arlington to host the Angels and A’s for back-to-back three game series. Their lone day off in this stretch comes on Monday, September 14 following the A’s series at home and just before a trip to Houston to face the Astros. That Houston trip prefaces a trip back to California to face the Angels, then the aforementioned two-game stop in Arizona before wrapping up the season with four games against Houston.
Where the Rangers could benefit from this condensed, compact schedule, is the leg up they are expected to have on their division rivals in terms of starting rotation. Texas on paper, has the best rotation in the division heading into the 2020 season edging out in-state rival Houston. Across a normal season, that rotation edge was expected to be notable. In a season where each game essentially carries the weight of 2.5 games in a standard 162 game season, having a deep rotation that puts you in a position to win every night is a recognizable advantage.
A wildcard for the Rangers in the 2020 season will be how they produce at the plate. The club brought in Todd Frazier as its only notable offensive signing and saw the departure of Nomar Mazara, who was a lineup regular. Texas has a lineup that has a tendency to be streaky at the plate which can either propel them into playoff contention status, or quickly put them in a whole against their divisional opponents.
There is no easy way to predict how this year will play out in the division. On paper, the Astros and Athletics are still the two favorites within the division and justifiably so. The Angels made significant improvements to their lineup with the addition of Anthony Rendon, but their pitching staff leaves much to be desired. For the Rangers to take a playoff spot, their pitching staff has to be ready to go from Opening Day. The lineup has potential to improve from last season, but the pitching staff is what will carry this team. If they do make the playoffs, one thing is for sure, a postseason trio of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Corey Kluber would be formidable against nearly any team.