Opening Day is almost here, and baseball fans everywhere can really feel it. It’s more prominent because of the lockout situation over a month ago with a hard realization of what could have been. Nevertheless, the Rangers are in Canada to start 2022 to take on the Toronto Blue Jays, a potent team that some predict to win the American League East. What about Texas? What’s the expectation for the Rangers? First thing, improving from 60 wins is a must. Second, the team needs to show development from their younger players. I’m not talking about growth only, but knowledge. For example, a young player makes a mistake on the field. It’s about that player learning from those mistakes to avoid any repeats and promotions within the farm system. Third, it’s about bringing that championship culture to Arlington.
— Alex Plinck🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) March 31, 2022
Here are five things that I think will happen in the first month of the 2022 season:
1. Corey Seager will struggle for the first two weeks.
It’s no knock on Corey Seager, but the new-face-in-a-new-place slow start corrupts a few guys. The lineup for the Rangers looks stacked, but it’s not Los Angeles Dodgers stacked. I’m also curious to see if Seager remains successful at Globe Life Field or if the Seager curse only applies to visiting Seagers. Then, of course, there’s also that large contract hanging over his head, but I don’t expect the struggles to last long for Corey. He may scrape a tick under .200 at one point or go 2 for 12 in the Blue Jays series, but there’s no reason to panic. Remember, we’re still playing 162 games.
2. Andy Ibáñez will have a strong first month.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned and seen from Ibáñez is that he’s a scrapper at the plate and at third base. He’s got sneaky pop and came up clutch a few times, including his MLB debut in Minnesota in 2021. I know the bridge is set for Josh Jung, and it should be, but Andy’s spring is making Rangers fans feel better at a position where some thought it was exceptionally weak. I don’t see Ibáñez having the type of month Nathaniel Lowe had in April 2021, but don’t open your mouth if the Rangers’ top offensive player in April is Ibáñez.
— Alex Plinck🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) March 21, 2022
3. Mitch Garver will thrive on Opening Day.
Last year, Garver went 1 for 3 against Kyle Gibson in Gibson’s start in Minnesota. To open 2022, Garver now faces another arm he’s used to catching, Jose Berrios. Last year, Kyle talked about how he had to make adjustments specifically to Mitch Garver because he was used to working with him. Therefore, he had to avoid certain tendencies. With that said, Kyle Gibson has more big-league experience than Jose Berrios and the pressures of Opening Day. I think Mitch Garver will have a big game on Opening Day against his former Twins teammate.
4. The fifth rotation spot will shuffle.
The shortened Spring Training may cause issues among younger players down the road. Spencer Howard told me last week that the shorter Spring didn’t affect him, but when I asked him if that may show up more down the road, “I can see that. That would make sense to me,” Howard said. However, Spencer said he felt fine. Kolby Allard made the team, therefore, right now, I expect a little shuffle between the two, but performances could even cause shuffling between minor leaguers.
5. Taylor Hearn will thrive in the Home Opener.
I can only imagine the emotions going through Taylor Hearn’s mind right now and his family. Chris Woodward said last year that there was a lot of growth among the team, but it’s fair to say that Taylor showed the most growth on the Rangers’ roster. So now, with that assignment in hand, I think Taylor may struggle in the first against Monday against the Rockies with the home opener jitters, but I think after the first, he’ll settle down and finish with a quality start to get the season going.
I asked @thearn14 five days ago whether he'd rather pitch Opening Day or the Home Opener.
"Pitching at home, the home opener, it's something every kid dreams of pitching in their opener at home."
Now Hearn will pitch the Rangers' home opener on April 11 vs the Rockies.
— Alex Plinck🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) April 2, 2022
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