The Texas Rangers are off today and play again tomorrow to kick off a three game series against the Chicago Cubs. The team is now 4-2 as they are enjoying their best start to a season since 2019. I wanted to give some general observations about the team so far.
The bullpen being the best unit on the team through one week is certainly unexpected since very few off-season resources were directed toward improving the pen. Two runs in 24.2 innings means that everyone in the bullpen is pitching at a high level. Through the first week the bullpen earned run average is the best in all of the major leagues. I still would look to improve that area at the trade deadline, but it is not the dumpster fire I was afraid it might be.
One of the offseason conversations was Josh Jung being the Rookie of the Year. Having seen how he has performed through the first week I actually think that can happen. His defense has been outstanding and he is piling up hits. If he stays healthy, he will put up good numbers and be included in that conversation.
I came into the season thinking that Seager would be the one to get MVP votes this year. The more I watch this team the more I think Adolis Garcia could be that guy. A more patient approach at the plate will lead to a higher batting average and a higher OPS. Garcia's ability to drive in runs could also lead to another 100 RBI season. You combine that with Gold Glove defense in center field and in right field and I think that by September Garcia might be the player that deserves to be considered for that honor.
The Jacob deGrom release point chart that came out yesterday was absolutely ridiculous. Nearly every pitch came from the same release point. I am sure to a hitter everything looks the same out of deGrom's hand. Then the ball starts moving at high velocity making it that much harder to hit. It led yesterday to a game where he struck out 11 and generated 25 swings and misses.
If the first week is any indication this Texas Rangers team will not be as much of a running team as last year's team was. 2 stolen base attempts in the first week, both by Marcus Semien. Does not seem like to be a priority for this coaching staff, despite the bigger bases and the rule changes made to encourage base stealing. That really is the only complaint I have about the Bruce Bochy era so far.
Dane Dunning might be best suited for this role in the bullpen over being a starting pitcher. He doesn't have overpowering stuff. He doesn't really strike out a ton of hitters and relies on generating weak contact. I think this bullpen role might best suit his skills. He is not really seeing hitters more than once, some twice. He can come in and let the hitters put the ball in play and rely on his defense. Hopefully, they decide to just keep him in the bullpen and let him hold down that long-man role.
Weird schedule quirk for the Rangers this season is the lack of games on Thursday. The Rangers will play on only nine more Thursdays the rest of the season. They do not play on more than two Thursdays in any month of the season. If you schedule an event on a Thursday good chance that it will not overlap with a Rangers game.
The AL West has a chance to put 3 teams into the playoffs this season. The top 4 in the division might be the best top four of any division in all of baseball. Houston, Seattle, LA Angels, and Texas all have a chance to be very good this season. I would not be surprised if all 4 are over .500 and in competition for the division and wild card spots through September. Every divisional matchup will have heightened importance as we go through the 2023 season.
Finally, the Rangers have a winning record after the first week of the season. They played very well and swept the Phillies. Hit a rough patch against Baltimore, but came out of it behind a dominant start by deGrom and a timely hit from Josh Jung. There are going to be many more ups and downs this season. The story of the season will be about how they handle the successes and failures that will come.