2 Rangers players who’ve earned more playing time, 1 who deserves less

Does Rangers manager Bruce Bochy need to shake things up?
Texas Rangers outfielder Travis Jankowski
Texas Rangers outfielder Travis Jankowski / Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

Despite a slew of injuries to begin the 2024 season, the Texas Rangers have managed to keep pace in the American League West. The Rangers are without Josh Jung, Justin Foscue, and Nathaniel Lowe, plus Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.

But injuries are part of the game, and the Rangers have employed a next man up mentality. That's resulted in several players getting the opportunity to shine, though perhaps manager Bruce Bochy should give those players even more of an opportunity.

The job of a major league manager is never an easy one, but sometimes riding the hot-hand is worth the gamble. Some of Texas' top performers this season could use a boost in playing time, while others who've struggled may need to take a seat or be sent back to the minor leagues. Which two Rangers players have earned more playing time, and which ones deserve less?

2 Rangers players who’ve earned more playing time, 1 who deserves less

Jacob Latz, Rangers reliever

The Rangers lack an elite left-handed pitcher to come on in relief when the opposition's lineup is loaded with left-handed bats. Or do they? To date, Jacob Latz has proven to be one of Bochy's best pitchers to emerge from the bullpen on a regular basis.

The assumption heading into the season was that Brock Burke would be Texas' best left-handed reliever. Burke pitched well during spring training. While the home runs were a bit of a concern, the southpaw struck out eight of the 33 batters he faced during Cactus League play and owned a 3.12 ERA.

Now, Latz, whose rookie status is still intact despite the fact he debuted in 2021 (as a starter), has been lights out for the Rangers in 2024. Few fans expected the lefty to be this good out of the chute. Most of Latz's opportunities have come in low-leverage situations, but Bochy needs to see how the lefty fares when the pressure is ratcheted up.

Travis Jankowski, Rangers outfielder

With Jung and Foscue on the injured list, Travis Jankowski leads all players on the Rangers active roster in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. But Jankowski is seen as more of a bench player and defensive replacement than he is an everyday player.

It's probably wise that Bochy views Jankowski in that way; throughout his career, that's been the outfielder's role with almost every team he's ever played for. Jankowski's speed and his ability to play defense has always been his calling card. But maybe it's time to offer up a couple more starts each week until Jankowski proves that he can't handle it.

The outfield is stacked with talent. Adolis Garcia and Evan Carter are fixtures, but Leody Taveras has yet to hit well this season, and Wyatt Langford has looked overwhelmed at times. If there's one player on the Rangers roster who's earned more playing time, it's Jankowski.

Wyatt Langford, Rangers DH

When it comes to which Rangers player deserves less playing time, the obvious answer is José Leclerc. But that's the easy answer, isn't it? While it's not wrong, the Rangers don't necessarily have a bevy of options set to take over the role of closer. But if Leclerc keeps pitching the way he has through the first two weeks, the Rangers will have to make a move.

On the position player side of things, Langford unfortunately hasn't hit the ground running the way most fans thought he would after an explosive performance during spring training basically forced the Rangers' hand. But Langford has looked uncomfortable at times and hasn't been able to find a rhythm. Langford has really struggled against fastballs this season, which seems odd.

The Rangers have also deployed Langford, more often than not, as the team's designated hitter. Is that really the best use of the 22-year-old's skill set? An outfielder by trade, Langford has seen time on the outfield grass, but with the aforementioned Jankowski, Taveras, Garcia, and Carter all receiving reps this season, it's not easy for Langford to find playing time in the field.

The former first-round pick's potential is unquestionable -- Langford has the opportunity to become a star. But this is the risk teams run when promoting players to the league so quickly. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn't. It's not a failure if Langford is deemed to be in need of more seasoning in the minor leagues, but it's also not time to hit the panic button just yet. The Rangers roster, as it's currently constructed, makes Langford's role a bit more complicated.

More Rangers News from Nolan Writin'