Rangers push rotation panic button, rush top pitching prospect for surprise MLB debut

Well, this is exciting!
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jack Leiter (71) pitches
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jack Leiter (71) pitches / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy wasn't kidding when he told reporters over the weekend that, "Everybody's an option." The Rangers are ready to welcome one of the league's top prospects, Jack Leiter to The Show later this week. Leiter is the Rangers' probable starter for Thursday's game against the Detroit Tigers.

Leiter is, of course, the son of longtime major league pitcher Al Leiter and was the Rangers first-round draft pick in 2021. Leiter starred for the Vanderbilt Commodores during his collegiate career, and after scuffling the minor leagues for his first couple seasons in the pros, Leiter has emerged as a solid starter in 2024.

While pitching for Triple-A Round Rock, Leiter is 1-1 with a 3.77 ERA and 4.10 FIP. The right-hander has appeared in three games for the Express this season with 25 strikeouts in 14.1 innings of work. The Rangers starting rotation has been hit hard by injuries this season, with Cody Bradford the latest causality to land on the injured list.

Rangers push rotation panic button, rush Jack Leiter for surprise MLB debut

Leiter was the best college pitcher in his draft class, which was why the Rangers chose him with the second overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. But Leiter's first two professional seasons raised concerns about whether or not Texas made the right choice.

In his first two seasons, Leiter posted an ERA north of 5.00 and struggled keeping the base paths clear. He averaged over five walks per nine innings during his first two seasons. But this year, Leiter has better command of the strike zone. The 23-year-old has issued just three walks in three games with a 0.977 WHIP and 15.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

Are the Rangers sure that Leiter is ready for the big leagues, though? Or is this a panic move on the part of the front office? Michael Lorenzen just made his Rangers debut after Bradford hit the IL with a low back strain earlier this week. The Rangers are also without Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Tyler Mahle.

Texas appears content to sink or swim with Leiter, who'll be making his major league debut on the road. The Rangers wrap up a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday, and all eyes will be on Texas' top pitching prospect.

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