Who should the Opening Day Starter be for the Texas Rangers?

With a few major names starting the season on the IL, who should take the bump for the defending champs on Opening Day?
World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game One
World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game One / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The starting pitching situation for the Rangers is not ideal for the first half of the season. Three big time starters in Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and recently signed Tyler Mahle are all out until after the All-Star Break. There's a decent chance at least a couple of them will also miss some time in the second half. The Rangers have still not resigned Jordan Montgomery this off-season, With all that being said, the decision for Opening Day starter becomes pretty easy.

Opening Day is going to be pretty Nasty

"Big Game" Nathan Eovaldi should be on the bump to begin the 2024 campaign for the defending champs. Even with the hits the starting rotation has taken, Eovaldi is probably the best choice outside of generational talent Jacob deGrom. Eovaldi was absolutely essential to the success of the Rangers last year. He quickly became beloved among Rangers fans in his first year for battling deep into games and seeming to never let the pressure get to him, hence the nickname "Big Game". Before his injury around mid-season, Eovaldi was pitching lights out with a 2.69 ERA. He didn't go less than five innings in any start before his injury.

Eovaldi presumably came back too early from his injury last season. The Rangers began slumping heavily during his time out, and being the player and teammate he is, he tried to come back early and help the situation. He had some rough starts at the end of the regular season while still working through his injury, adding almost a whole run to his ERA finishing the regular season with a 3.63. I believe it was clear he was not 100% and it's hard to hold those outings against him. Especially with how he bounced back in the playoffs.

Aside from Game 1 of the World Series, Eovaldi went six innings plus giving up three or less runs each time. He made six starts and earned five wins. The Rangers would not be the defending World Series Champions without Nathan Eovaldi. His postseason starts were crucial, allowing the Rangers to rely minimally on their bullpen. He truly lived up to his "Big Game" nickname that he earned from his time in Boston during the Red Sox 2018 World Series run.

The Texas Rangers have also earned the ESPN prime time slot for Opening Day. With a large national audience tuning in to watch the Rangers begin their title defense against the Chicago Cubs, who better than the guy who takes it up a notch when the lights are brightest? Nathan Eovaldi is the clear choice for Opening Day starter to me and I'm looking forward to another quality start from him that gets the Rangers in the win column to start the 2024 season.

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