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What’s the internal difference to the 2023 Texas Rangers?

Photo: Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers

What’s the internal difference to the 2023 Texas Rangers?

The last two nights have created minor hardships for the Texas Rangers. Even though the club came out swinging to take commanding 6-1 and 6-0 leads, the bullpen scuffled to close out both Monday and Tuesday’s games. It’s a tiny blip on what has been a strong start for the Rangers. Nevertheless, if Texas can secure a win in the last five days of April, it’ll be the Rangers first winning March/April since 2016, when the team made the postseason. Yes, there’s slight panic after the past 48 hours, but there remains a positive atmosphere compared to the last few seasons, and it’s more than just new faces.

There’s a different feel to the 2023 Texas Rangers. Yes, the team added a lot of highly skilled pitching talent during the offseason, along with a revamped pitching core and a new manager, but even from last year’s players, there’s a different look. “I think we have a fantastic team,” Dane Dunning told me. “I talked with [Eovaldi] a bunch [like] mechanical stuff [and] he can talk to anybody, he can talk to a wall. I talk to deGrom about things [and] he is easy to talk [and talk to] everyone about things. Dunning said a difference between last season and this season is that in 2022, the Rangers had four starters with never a fifth established, while in 2023, you can make a case that the team has eight players that could fit the starting mold.

For Brad Miller, he told me that the extra camaraderie among the club ties into results more than anything. “I thought we had a great group of guys that really cared and put a lot of effort. Obviously, we didn’t win that many games. It’s like, what came first, the chicken or the egg? We’ve been winning, so when you’re winning, everybody is feeling good,” Miller said.

If you compare and contrast both the pitching and hitting sides between last season and this season, the Rangers’ ranking in baseball improved. Their bullpen remains top 2 in the league (despite the last two nights), their top 5 in batting average, went from the bottom 7 to middle of the pack in starting pitching, and their 2nd in runs scored. Another aspect I found intriguing is that the Rangers went from 19th to 2nd in chase percentage (from 30% to 24.3%).

“I don’t know if there’s more unity than we had last year, but we have a good group of guys that have gelled together and have good chemistry and good leadership,” Rangers third base coach Tony Beasley said. “We have a clear goal, win. I think that’s what it is right now. At this point, we’re playing well [and] when you’re playing well, it’s going to be fun. The challenge comes if we hit a bump in the road that will tell us what are true characteristics are.”

I bring up the unity and camaraderie when I walk onto the field. I see a lot more dialogue than I recall last year. Most all position players are gathered together daily [and] stretching. There are discussions between bullpen guys and starters. Again, it’s all observant from my point of view, and I don’t see the end-to-end that goes on, but it looks like a club with the “all for one” mentality. So does that come from the players, or is that an aspect that Bruce Bochy brought?

“I would say a little of both,” Dunning answered when I asked him. “Boch has a good way of saying his things and being open [and] I think for the most part is the new veterans we brought in are easy to talk to guys.” Fans have seen other clubhouses deteriorate due to a veteran not clicking with their new club.

For the Rangers, that hasn’t been an issue whether those veterans end up staying or not. “That’s a credit to Chris Young, all of the baseball ops, and the amazing staff who have known guys from other teams. We do our homework on what type of person this is. The individual matters. It’s not just about what they can do on the field. We always look at the right person, right character, [and] right individual that fits the clubhouse,” Beasley said.

Brad Miller notices that the players from last year know what they need to do to elevate their game, and the veterans continue to build on their success from previous seasons or adjust to what they need to do to make them successful. “That’s what our game asks us to do is kind of elevate and get better,” Miller said.

The Rangers are building momentum for a tough May with 19 road games and 8 home games. The schedule includes two three-city road trips with a small homestand sandwiched in. If the Rangers want to contend for a playoff spot and even more, the team unity will need to stick. It appears it has. Oh, it also helps when you typically follow Jacob deGrom as Dane Dunning does. “He puts the fear of God in everybody.”

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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