4 Texas Rangers players who need to play well to secure a roster spot

World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The Texas Rangers kick off spring training action today when they take on the Kansas City Royals. The long winter of inaction will melt away this afternoon. It will be Dane Dunning starting for Texas and Daniel Lynch IV starting for Kansas City. It begins a 32-game Cactus League schedule for the defending World Series champions. Most of the roster for Texas is pretty well set. There will still be competitions for spots on the Opening Day roster and also coaches will want to see certain players and how they perform against other major leaguers. These four players will need to perform well if they want to have a chance to make the team.

1. Brock Burke

Burke in 2022 was one of the Texas Rangers' best relievers. He had come back from shoulder surgery and dominated throughout that season. He was discussed as a potential closer in camp last year. Then, the season started. Burke saw his stats decline almost across the board. His ERA increased from 1.97 to 4.37. He pitched in far fewer innings. In 2022 Burke threw 82 1/3 innings and in 2023 it went down to 59 2/3 innings, but yet he still allowed more hits in 2023 than he did in 2022 with 64 hits allowed. His strikeouts fell from 90 in 2022 to 52 in 2023. The only number that improved was his walk total as it fell from 24 in 2022 to 9 in 2023. It just was not good enough. He went from reliable middle and late inning reliever to mop up reliever in just one season.

Burke is on the 40-man roster, but is far from guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. He will need to be more effective with his slider and changeup this season. Hitters really hit him hard on those pitches. Those were two of his more effective pitches in 2022, but in 2023 hitters had better than a .300 batting average against both pitches. In 2022 Burke did a great job staying away from the middle of the plate. His slider was either down and away to left-handers or down and inside to right-handers. In 2023 he left more pitches in the middle of the plate. That led to struggles against both right-handers and left-handers.

Burke will need to show improved command. He did not walk a lot of batters in 2023, but he needs to show that he can get back to pitching on the corners. The last we saw of Burke he was struggling to get out any hitters he faced in the postseason. If he can show improved command and an ability to work clean innings then he will more than likely make the team. If he is still struggling like he did in September and October then he could be replaced by one of the young pitchers or non-roster invitees.