It hasn’t been made official yet, but Texas Rangers’ right-hander Kyle Gibson is expected to be the team’s Opening Day starter on April 1 in Kansas City against the Royals.
This development, first reported by MLB.com’s Kennedi Landry in late February, shouldn’t come as a total surprise given the veteran’s contract and status as the rotation’s most senior member in terms of both age and tenure (Can you believe that a player who only arrived in Arlington in 2020 is now the longest-tenured regular on the starting staff?).
Gibson shares the latter status with fellow rotation mate and righty Jordan Lyles, who also signed with the Texas Rangers during the 2019 off-season, as well as other rotation candidates like Kyle Cody.
Pitchers like Wes Benjamin, Kolby Allard and Joe Palumbo have been with the Rangers longer overall, but have not been consistent rotation members during their respective tenures.
The 33-year-old Gibson unveiled his newfound cutter in his brief one inning outing in Monday’s loss to the SF Giants at Surprise Stadium.
Kyle Gibson’s new pitch might help him secure the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day start.
Gibson’s got through a scoreless frame in his start, allowing a walk and a hit and inducing a double play before being pulled.
He also had some added velocity on his fastball, touching 95 mph at various points during the inning, which was also an encouraging sign.
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It’s not as if Gibson needed to develop another pitch (the cutter), as he already has four (fastball, sinker, changeup and slider), but after an uninspiring 5.35 ERA in 67.1 innings pitcher over 12 starts in 2020, the cutter might stand to work in his favor as he looks for better results in 2021.
The 33-year-old righty is certainly not your conventional Opening Day starter given his abominable stats over the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He’s also never pitched 200+ innings in a season during his career.
Nonetheless, Gibson is probably the most logical choice for Opening Day for a multitude of other reasons.
A career 4.57 ERA (almost a full run lower than his 2020 output) suggests some positive regression on the way in 2021, another reason to believe in Gibson to handle the April 1 honors.
And if Monday’s brief but effective outing against the SF Giants featuring the new cutter demonstrated anything to the team, it’s that he’s well on his way to earning that privilege officially.