The Texas Rangers had an extremely busy Saturday afternoon, both on and off the field. On the field, the team secured yet another series victory, with their 5-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Off the field there were a number of transactions that some fans saw coming, but others might not have been aware, were going to occur.
Texas Rangers' Ezequiel Duran placed on 10-day IL
First off, Ezequiel Duran was placed on the 10-day IL retroactive to Wednesday. Duran was removed early from the game on Tuesday with mild right oblique discomfort and has been on the bench ever since. It was speculated that he wouldn't require a stint on the IL, but that is obviously not the case now. As someone that started out the season as a platoon player, Duran has forced Bruce Bochy to put his name on the lineup card more often than not, because of his hot bat. He has played in parts of 40 games and has 144 plate appearances. In that time, the 24-year-old (he had a birthday last Monday) is hitting .301/.340/.515, has seven home runs, has scored 19 runs, driven in 24 runs, and has a 135 wRC+. He will be missed, but hopefully Duran will have a quick recovery and get back on the field soon.
On a positive note, taking Duran's place on the active roster is Travis Jankowski, who is returning from a right hamstring strain that he sustained earlier this month. Jankowski wasn't expected to make the opening day roster out of spring training, and yet has provided quite a spark for the Rangers when he is playing. He has covered all three outfield positions this year, with the bulk of his work coming in left and center. Jankowski is a plus defender with electric speed, but he has also proven his mettle with the bat this season. In 25 games and 77 plate appearances, he is slashing .309/.382/.412, has five doubles, one triple, five stolen bases, and has a 126 wRC+. Jankowski doesn't have near the pop that Duran has with the bat, but he is a guy that can contribute in many ways, and it is great that he is once again healthy.
The Rangers also placed starting pitcher Dane Dunning on the MLB Paternity Leave List on Saturday. Dunning and his wife Rachel welcomed their first baby, son Mack Anthony Dunning, into the world on Thursday. Dunning, who started the season in the bullpen, has been in the starting rotation since Jacob deGrom has been on the IL. He was scheduled to make his next start today but will instead be spending some extra time with his wife and new baby boy. Dunning will more than likely make his first start as a dad, in Arlington, next weekend against the Seattle Mariners.
Texas Rangers turn to Cody Bradford for spot start
Filling in for Dunning today, will be Cody Bradford. As you will remember, Bradford made his major league debut a couple weeks ago in Arlington against the Atlanta Braves. The start didn't go exactly like Bradford would have wanted, but he did get his first taste of the big leagues. Hopefully this outing will be improved for the crafty lefthander, but the team he will be facing will once again be one of MLB's elites. When Bradford faced the Braves, they were sporting the second-best MLB record. His opponent today, the Baltimore Orioles, currently have the third best record in baseball. The good news for Bradford is that the Rangers now have the second-best record in MLB and have the top run producing offense. Without the nerves and adrenaline rush of a major league debut in front of his hometown fans, perhaps Bradford can command the zone like he has been doing for Round Rock and put together a quality start today.
It is clear that the Rangers' front office was extremely busy on Saturday afternoon. There will be more news and transactions in the days to come. Mitch Garver is nearing a return to the active roster. Jacob deGrom threw a 31-pitch bullpen session on Friday, and thus a ramp up schedule is being formulated for him now. The moves and transactions throughout the MLB season are many.
Today, on the field, the Texas Rangers will be looking to sweep the Balitmore Orioles. With the series victory in hand, this game would be gravy. But more importantly, a win today would also give the Rangers the playoff tiebreaker over the Orioles. In a world where the Rangers are playoff contenders, which is the world we are living in, that wouldn't be a bad thing to have coming down the stretch in September.