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Weighing the good and the bad for the Rangers midway through 2023

Photo: Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers

Weighing the good and the bad for the Rangers midway through 2023

We’ve reached the midpoint of the 2023 season. The Rangers sit atop first place in the American League West and have enjoyed that spot for all but one game this year. Thursday night’s All-Star starting results marked a franchise record with four Texas Rangers getting the starting nod in Seattle on July 11th, with others making their case for a bench spot or on the American League All-Star starting staff. Yes, things are going swimmingly for the Rangers, well, for the most part. Through 81 games, there have been great times and not-so-good times.

Good: The Offense Juggernauts

The Rangers’ offense returned to earth in June after a historic performance for the first two months. What feels like a scuffle in June turned into averaging still 4.65 runs a game since the start of the Cardinals series. The Rangers are hitting .309 with runners in scoring position on the season, of course, due to the dip in June. However, the last few games of the Tigers series praised hope that the club navigated through a rough funk. Again, the numbers the Rangers put up offensively to start the year are historical, and everyone expected a drop, but to remain at the top of the league with still golden figures proves the Rangers’ success is not a fluke.

Not So Good: Bullpen Struggles

For the first 30 games, the Rangers bullpen was stellar, ranking second in MLB. However, in the past two months, it took a turn. The struggles came at a downpour between late April and late May, then some clarity hit, but the bullpen continues to be a pain point for the Rangers. For the season, the Rangers bullpen has a 4.37 ERA which ranks 7th worst in MLB (keep in mind the success early on). It’s the second-highest ERA among teams with a winning record (Dodgers), and the 16 pitching losses tie for 9th most in MLB (Angels and Dodgers are the only teams with a winning record with 16).

There are a few bright spots. Josh Sborz is turning into the player the Rangers scouted when they acquired him in 2021, and Will Smith continues to be a force in the closer’s role. Grant Anderson has raised some eyes positively; however, the need for more consistency continues to bite the Rangers. On Friday, the Rangers addressed this issue by acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Cole Ragans and minor leaguer Roni Cabrera. Though more could be on the horizon in the next 30 plus days.

Good: Road Warriors

A lot of arrows in 2023 point to the last successful season for this franchise, 2016, their last division title. One major one is how the club is performing away from Globe Life Field. The Rangers are six games over .500 away from Arlington, and if they keep that pace, it’ll be the first time the Rangers finish with a winning record on the road since 2016 (42-39). What makes it more impressive is that the success includes series wins in Houston and Seattle, two divisional locations the Rangers had significant problems before this season. Texas ranks 3rd in MLB in runs scored on the road and 3rd in ERA in road games.

Not So Good: One-Run Woes Continue

It ties into the bullpen woes, but the five one-run wins by the Rangers tie for the fewest in MLB (Padres). The oddity to this trend is that only two current division leaders (the Reds and Braves) have winning records in one-run games, while Arizona, Texas, and Minnesota have losing records, and as glorious as the Rays are playing, they are 14-14 in one-run contests. The difference between last season and this season is that Texas is involved in much fewer one-run contests (they played 50 one-run games in 2022) compared to a pace of 32 the club is in now. The Rangers went 0-4 in June in one-run games. Therefore, it remains an aspect the club needs to improve on. It’ll tell you this, it’s certainty one difference between the 2023 Rangers and the 2016 club.

Good: Solid Starting Rotation

The Rangers’ starters have thrown the most innings among any starting staff in MLB. Couple that with a staff with the third-lowest batting average against, and you have a rotation that ranks 2nd in MLB behind the flying Rays. Last month I talked about Dane Dunning’s success story, why he’s been good in the rotation, and Nathan Eovaldi’s mindset. Despite a few blips, Jon Gray has been one of the best on the staff and in the league, and Martin Perez has become unstoppable at home. Andrew Heaney has given the Rangers solid starts. Though he has shown some inconsistencies, Heaney still manages to put a high-power offense in a position to win. It’s a rotation that scares teams come postseason time.

Not So Good: No Pride Night

Everyone knows this by now. The Rangers remain the only team to have no scheduled Pride night (the Reds and Athletics have theirs scheduled later, and the Tigers’ Pride night had to reschedule due to rain). For a heavily home-scheduled June, it was a perfect chance to integrate something, but once again, the Ranger’s lack of awareness of the LGBTQ+ community is the highlight of Pride Month at Globe Life Field. Conversely, the Rangers were visitors to two Pride nights on a nine-game road schedule. Is that a coincidence or on purpose?

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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