Texas Rangers: Breaking down Dane Dunning’s struggles

Apr 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Dane Dunning (33) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Dane Dunning (33) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Texas Rangers have a future ace in Dane Dunning at pitcher. He has an excellent location with his slider and curveballs down low in the strike zone causing batters to whiff at them for strike three.

Now Dunning had a very interesting game in a bad way against the Chicago White Sox. He really couldn’t get a grip on the ball and his change-ups and sliders were all over the place.

It was very unusual for Dunning since his first two starts in a Texas Rangers uniform at home were really solid outings.

There were two factors that played into this, those factors were the weather and playing back in Chicago for the first time since he was traded this summer.

Texas Rangers: How cold weather affects pitching

Now, you are probably wondering why I’m bringing up the weather since major league players are used to playing in the cold during the season. Playing in cold weather has a lot to do with his outing.

As I said above in the opening paragraph, Dunning is a special kind of pitcher that can throw sliders, changeups, and curveballs.

Eno Sarris, a writer for The Athletic that created Fangraphs.com, said that sliders, changeups, and curveballs are harder to throw in cold weather due to the density of the ball.

"For all that talk about the fingers, you’d think certain pitch types might suffer more than most. People say the changeup is a feel pitch, but recently Zack Greinke and others have admitted that breaking balls require the most feel. And so, maybe the slider is the pitch most affected by the cold. Fernandez agreed — “I’ve noticed you have a little more trouble throwing a tight breaking ball,” he said — and others have concurred, too, like Layne and Danny Farquhar of the Rays as well."

Dunning even said after the game he couldn’t locate his pitches well enough to get the Texas Rangers the win.

I’ve seen professional football players adapt to playing in the cold and it hasn’t affected their performance on the field

Since Dunning is a professional baseball player, he should have adapted what he would pitch if the weather was cold.

Texas Rangers: Dane Dunning’s return to Chicago

This is the other reason why Dunning had a bad game: Playing back where his career in the majors started.

Players that get traded like Dunning during the off-season to another team usually don’t have a good game the first time back at their old ballpark.

I don’t know if it’s a league curse but I’ve seen some pretty bad games played by players returning to their old home stadiums for the first time.

Now that Dunning has gotten that out of the way hopefully, he doesn’t have any more bad games in the south side of Chicago.

Conclusion 

I’m pretty sure due to the cold weather we can give Dunning a break this time on his bad performance. If Dunning was pitching in warmer weather, he would have better control and rotation of the ball.

I’m also sure Dunning will recover from this game and learn how to pitch better in colder weather. If Dunning can learn to pitch better in cold weather, the Texas Rangers will have a future ace on the team.

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