#1 Jon Gray
The news this week about Max Scherzer missing the rest of the regular season and being unlikely to make a return in the playoffs increases the importance of Jon Gray. He signed here back in 2021 with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. He chose Texas even though they were coming off a 102-loss season. He signed here with the expectation that Texas would be in this position. They are and now they need him to be the solid number two pitcher that he can be. If Texas does make it to the wild card round Gray is likely starting one of the three games.
Gray has had a rough September. He pitched on Friday night and got the early yank once again. He pitched 2 2/3 innings back on September 10th and Friday night he only pitched 3 2/3 innings. In three September starts he has a 7.15 ERA and has not pitched more than five innings in any of the three starts. He has been having command issues this month as he now has eight walks and two hit batters in the 11 1/3 innings pitched this month. He has not been good enough and Friday night Heaney was not able to bail him out. Heaney pitched two innings and allowed six runs and after that Texas waived the white flag.
Gray has the ability to be a dominant right-handed starter. He can get that fastball up to 97mph, with a nasty curveball and slider combination. He also throws a changeup and sweeper. The issue he has been having this season is hitters are having more success against his fastball than in any previous season. Hitters have a .345 batting average against the fastball and have a .263 batting average or below on his other pitches.
Gray has a very important role on this team and even more so now that Scherzer is out. If Texas is able to line up their rotation it will likely go Nathan Eovaldi then Gray or Montgomery for games 2 and 3 of the wild card round. Gray is likely to get the ball to either clinch a first round series or extend the series to a game 3. If he continues to pitch like he has it could be an early exit for this Texas Rangers team. He needs to get back to being the pitcher who is able to pitch six to seven innings and striking out seven or more batters. That kind of Gray performance will give Texas a chance to win every time he steps on the mound.