Is Dane Dunning's Rangers roster spot in danger despite recent impressive outing?

The Rangers right-hander had his best outing of the year this past weekend.
Texas Rangers pitcher Dane Dunning
Texas Rangers pitcher Dane Dunning / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

Dane Dunning has seen his fair share of ups and downs in 2024. The Texas Rangers starter found his way onto the Opening Day roster in part due to the absence of Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Tyler Mahle. All three starters were placed on the injured list prior to beginning of 2024.

But Dunning had his best performance of the season on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds. The right-hander lasted 5.1 innings, and were it not for an errant throw on the part of shortstop Corey Seager, Dunning may have escaped the outing with just one run.

As it was, Dunning was lifted after watching two Reds hitters cross the plate in the sixth inning, but until that time, he had allowed no runs and just three hits while striking out 10 batters. Unfortunately, for Dunning, that performance isn't going to save him once Scherzer returns from the IL.

Dane Dunning's impressive start won't save his spot in Rangers rotation

On the year, Dunning is 3-2 with a 4.13 ERA. Outside of Cody Bradford, who's currently on the IL, no Rangers starter has done a better job of keeping hitters off balance this season. Dunning has allowed opposing batters to hit just .190 and has a 1.16 WHIP. He also leads all Rangers' starters with 39 punch outs.

But Scherzer's rehab assignment will soon be coming to an end. With Bradford already absent from the Rangers' active roster, Dunning is the only starter who still has minor-league options remaining. The veteran core of Jon Gray, Michael Lorenzen, Andrew Heaney, and Nathan Eovaldi cannot be optioned to the minors.

The Rangers could kick around the idea of moving Dunning or another starter into the bullpen, but outside of Cole Winn and Jacob Latz, no one among the Texas' relief corps has minor-league options remaining either. Winn has put up phenomenal numbers this season and Latz is the Rangers' only left-handed reliever.

Scherzer had his first rehab start with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate last week. Rangers fans can expect the former Cy Young Award winner to log a couple more outings with the Round Rock Express before returning to the big leagues, but Dunning will inevitably be the odd man out when Scherzer returns.

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