1 significant Texas Rangers roster move to anticipate in the next few days

What's going to happen next?
Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray
Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

UPDATE: The decision has been made. Gerson Garabito has been demoted after Gray was activated from the IL.

The Texas Rangers will send Michael Lorenzen to the hill for Friday's game against the San Francisco Giants. That much we know. But what about the rest of the Rangers starting rotation for the upcoming weekend series against San Fran?

At the moment, those starts are TBD. But there is a chance that a certain pitcher could be returning from the injured list this weekend. Jon Gray, who's been sidelined with mild groin strain, is eligble to come off the IL any time. Gray's injury was only expected to keep him out of action for the 15-day minimum.

With that in mind, Gray could be back on the bump this weekend at Globe Life Park. But if Gray returns, one of the Rangers current starters will be out of job. There's really only two (maybe three) choices to make. Which one will the Rangers choose?

The Rangers should option Dane Dunning to Triple-A and activate Jon Gray from the IL

The easiest way for the Rangers to solve their roster crunch when Gray returns from the IL is to option Dane Dunning to Triple-A Round Rock. Dunning is the only player in the starting rotation with minor-league options remaining.

Dunning has pitched relatively well and is striking out nearly 27% of the batters he's faced this season. Over his last seven starts, Dunning is 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 32.2 innings of work.

But Dunning has been outworked by the only other pitcher who is likely to be moved out of the rotation — Andrew Heaney. The veteran has pitched to a 2.43 ERA during his last seven appearances and has only allowed five free passes in his 33 innings on the mound. On the season, Heaney still owns a sub-4.00 ERA, and his chase rate is among the top 20% in the league.

There's also the matter of Heaney's contract. Unlike Dunning, Heaney does not have any minor-league options remaining and is owed $13 million this season. If the Rangers wanted to move on from Heaney, unless another team plucked him off waivers, Texas will still be on the hook for the remainder of his 2024 salary.

The Rangers could always decide to slide Jose Ureña back to the bullpen, but the 32-year-old has started six straight games for Texas and owns an impressive 2.84 ERA in those 31.2 innings of work. With Max Scherzer also working his way back to the Rangers roster, Texas can always make that type of move a few weeks from now. Heaney could find his way into a relief role as well.

Sending Dunning to the minors is the most prudent move that the Rangers could make. Based on how the Rangers have suffered through injuries this season, he could back in the bigs before you know it anyway.

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