Texas Rangers ready for clash of 1 vs 2

St. Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers
St. Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

Everyone loves a great underdog story. So what happens when the underdogs become the favorites? That is precisely where the Texas Rangers (40-21), and to some extent, the Tampa Bay Rays (46-19) find themselves. The Rays have been a perennial playoff team and even made it to the World Series in 2020, but nobody expected them to perform at the historic level they are this season. And the Rangers were not expected to actually contend for a playoff spot this season, and yet they have the second-best record in MLB on June 9th.

No matter what the sport, when the top two teams square off, it is a big deal. People take notice and much is made about the outcomes. However, these three games count the exact same as all of the other 159 games that the two teams have or will play. Managers Bruce Bochy and Kevin Cash are not going to make more out of the matchup than it really is, but it should be a good test for both organizations and a serve as a barometer of sorts. Playoff atmosphere might be somewhat of a stretch, but it is sure to be a hotly contested series.

Texas Rangers schedule vs the Tampa Bay Rays

Date and Time

Rangers Probable Pitcher

Rays Probable Pitcher

Fri 9th - 5:40 CT

Andrew Heaney LHP 4-3, 4.03 ERA, 60 SO

Tyler Glasnow RHP 0-0, 3.72 ERA, 14 SO

Sat 10th - 3:10 CT

Nathan Eovaldi RHP 8-2, 2.24 ERA, 77 SO

Taj Bradley RHP 4-2, 3.60 ERA, 48 SO

Sun 11th - 12:40 CT

Martin Perez LHP 6-1, 3.97 ERA, 49 SO

Shane McClanahan LHP 9-1, 2.02 ERA, 87 SO

This weekend's road series will not only be a battle of 1 vs 2, in MLB standings, it will feature some of the premium players of the 2023 season. Baseball is a team game, but within those clubs are individuals that, when performing at a high level, can lift their squad to the heights that we find both the Rangers and the Rays.

Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays are statistically the same team

Texas and Tampa Bay's statistics, and team makeup, are as similar as their win-loss record. There isn't a weak spot in either teams' lineup, and their starting rotations are both stellar. The Rangers have scored the most runs in MLB at 386 and the Rays are second with 368. They are tops in run differential with Texas having +154 and Tampa Bay +135. The third best run differential is the Atlanta Braves, with +70.

Pitching wise, both teams boast rotations that are tops in baseball. Tampa Bay has the best starting pitching ERA at 2.94 and the Rangers are second with a 3.13 ERA. The only vulnerability for either side this season, has been their bullpens. The Rangers bullpen ranks 23rd in MLB with a 4.44 ERA and the Rays are 20th with a 4.19 ERA. With these explosive offenses, and the weaker bullpen numbers, these three games could be decided in the latter innings.

Top two AL Cy Young candidates to take the mound in Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays series

The weekend series will also feature the top two current Cy Young candidates, in the American League. On Saturday, the Rangers' very own, Nathan Eovaldi, will take the mound for Texas. His numbers this season are more than anyone could have expected. In 12 starts and 80 1/3 innings, he is 8-2, has 77 strikeouts, a 2.24 ERA, and a 0.934 WHIP.

Where Eovaldi has been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers, Shane McClanahan has been just what everyone thought he would be, brilliant. He was my pre-season bold prediction AL Cy Young end of season winner. So far, he has proven me correct, although I am pulling for Eovaldi to overtake him over the remainder of the year. McClanahan has started 13 games and pitched 75 2/3 innings, has a record of 9-1, has 87 strikeouts, a 2.02 ERA, and a 1.150 WHIP. Simply put, he has been dominating. The Rangers will look to take advantage of his only weakness which is the occasional free pass and the long ball. Perhaps Texas will put them in that order, in the same inning and get some runs on the board against the stingy lefty.

There are just so many great position players in the matchup that one standalone article doesn't do them justice. Each team has All-Star, and even MVP caliber players at multiple positions. For a fanbase that has been starved for meaningful baseball over the last six long seasons, this weekend marks a return to legitimacy for Rangers fans. Texas has won six straight series, and will look to make it seven, on the road in Tampa Bay against the best team in baseball. Rangers fans, get your popcorn ready and enjoy the show!