Is Dane Dunning going to start Opening Day for the Texas Rangers?

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#3- Dunning was the MVP of the pitching staff in 2023

Each manager has their own decision-making process when it comes to Opening Day. Some managers will tap the ace of their staff and call it a day. Some will go with whoever was the best pitcher in the previous season. Some will go with the big free agent signing. Bochy last year went with deGrom. He mentioned at the time he had given strong consideration to Martin Perez. He wanted to reward Perez for how he pitched in 2022. In the end, deGrom was healthy and that is who he went with.

Dunning is not Texas' best starter that is available. That honor would go to Nathan Eovaldi. Dunning was the most important pitcher on the entire staff for Texas throughout the 2023 season. He was an excellent long man throughout April. He had a 1.77 ERA pitching out of the pen in the season's first month. He then shifted to the rotation when deGrom was hurt. His excellent pitching continued as he had a 2.28 ERA in May. As the season went along he increased his strikeouts per nine innings from April to the end of the season. He had a 4.9 strikeouts per nine in April and in August he increased that to 11.5. He then was a solid option throughout the postseason. He made five appearances and did not allow a run in three of them.

It could be an unorthodox option if Bochy chooses to go with Dunning on Opening Day, but it should not be surprising either. These reasons and more means Bochy can reward Dunning with that honor. For now, Dunning will just be given the Cactus League Opening Day start. He will likely pitch one or two innings and call it a day as he continues his work to get ready for the 2024 season.

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