3 things to Watch For This Week
The first player to watch for is Yoshi Tsutsugo. He finally made it to camp last week as he was dealing with visa issues. He is here now and has been playing since last Friday. He has played every day since then and is 4-11 with 1 home run, one double, and five RBIs. There are only thirteen games left before the end of spring training. The last spot on the bench competition is still wide open. I am not sure if Frazier or Jankowski have really done enough to win the job at this point. If Tsutsugo can continue to hit and spray line drives all over the field he can win that last roster spot.
The next player is Will Smith. He was signed last week and immediately reported to camp. He has been pitching in games since March 10th. He has made two appearances so far and pitched an inning in each appearance with three strikeouts in his first game and one strikeout in his second game. The bullpen has a chance to be a strength for this team. It will require Will Smith to perform well in a late-inning relief role or be the bridge that gets the game to the late-inning relievers. He closed previously for Bruce Bochy in 2019. Bochy has not said yet if he will name a closer or if it will be more of a closer-by-committee approach. I am going to be watching this week to see how he continues to pitch and in what role we see him pitch in.
The final player is Nathan Eovaldi. He was out since March first with left-side tightness. He returned to game-action Monday afternoon and pitched two innings. The strength and depth of this rotation rely on Eovaldi to pitch up to his capabilities and stay healthy. If he can do that the Rangers will have a special rotation. Eovaldi's next start is not known at this point. It will likely be this weekend against the Angels on the road or at home against the Mariners. The Rangers also could opt for another minor league start rather than expose Eovaldi to their divisional rivals. I will be watching to see how Eovaldi bounces back from his start health-wise and to see when he starts next.
Finally, the Rangers play six games before Tuesday, March 21st. Wins and losses are not the most important thing in spring, but they will be hoping to have a better week than they did last week. Martin Perez is still at the World Baseball Classic and Venezuela looks like they are in a position to advance to the quarterfinal round. Perez started on Saturday against the Dominican Republic and was able to pitch around the lineup and hold them to one run in his 3.1 innings. He will look to continue that success this weekend if Venezuela advances. There will be a lot to keep track of and next week we will recap everything that happens as we continue the countdown to Opening Day.