3 Best Unexpected Performances for the Texas Rangers in 2023

The superstars grabbed the headlines for Texas this year, but Texas does not win a World Series or even reach the playoffs if not for these three unexpected performances.

World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Harry How/GettyImages
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Dunning is stunning filling in for Jacob deGrom

The second big move Texas made in the 2022-2023 offseason was signing Jacob deGrom. They shocked the baseball world when they signed deGrom to a guaranteed five-year contract worth almost 200 million dollars. He was going to be the ace Texas has been searching for since moving to Arlington. In the six starts he did make deGrom did pitch like an ace. He was 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA, and 45 strikeouts to just four walks in 30 1/3 innings pitched. He gave Texas exactly what they were looking for. That is until he had to be removed from a start against the New York Yankees in April with what was described as forearm tightness. deGrom was placed on the 15-day IL and then moved to the 60-day IL before it being announced he would need Tommy John surgery in June.

The first option Texas turned to was Dane Dunning. He had started the season in the pen as the long man and was excellent in that role early in the season. His career had been as a starter and this deGrom injury opened the door for him to become a starter again. He was not able to replicate the dominant strikeout-to-walk ratio deGrom had, but other than that he did an excellent deGrom imitation in the first half.

Dunning in the first half had an 8-2 record with a 2.84 ERA. He allowed a .236 batting average against in the first half. Texas had a 7-5 record in games that he started from May until the All-Star break. That includes winning four of his five starts in June. Dunning was one of the main reasons why Texas did not fall apart in the absence of deGrom. He was not just filling in for deGrom, he was pitching well enough to win games for the Texas Rangers.

The second half saw Dunning's ERA rise and his role change when Texas traded for Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery. His first half though was excellent and gave Texas the patience they needed to wait until the trade deadline to make a big move. Then Dunning transitioned smoothly into the bullpen role and pitched well in September and October in the long-relief role.

Next: Promising right-handed reliever fulfills his potential in October