Friday newsletter time: Rangers-Orioles series is feel-good baseball
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
The next three days at Camden Yards will serve as a potential playoff preview.
Yes, the Rangers and the Orioles are the two teams playing.
The teams are on the rise, and that’s good for baseball. Baltimore started to show something last season.
But neither is far removed from 100-loss seasons and top-five draft picks. The Rangers pick fourth this year.
The Orioles built their team though the draft. Their best player is catcher Adley Rutschmann, the first overall pick in 2019, and they took third baseman Gunnar Henderson in the second round. Their starter tonight, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, was selected in the first round (11th overall) in 2018 from Nacogdoches Central Heights High School.
First baseman Ryan Mountcastle was a first-rounder in 2015, the same year center fielder Cedric Mullins went in the 13th round.
The Rangers have spent a ton of money the past two offseasons, and that has pushed them into contention. But their lineup also features a first-round pick (Josh Jung, eighth overall in 2019), a key international signee (Leody Taveras, 2015) and some savvy trade acquisitions (Nate Lowe, Jonah Heim and Adolis Garcia).
The Rangers have the more productive lineup and better starting rotation, but the Orioles have the best bullpen. If the Rangers had the Orioles’ bullpen, they’d be running away with the American League West.
This will be the last time the Rangers and Orioles play this season, unless they square off in the postseason. The Orioles won 2 of 3 games at Globe Life Field in the second series of the season.
Next up for deGrom
Right-hander Jacob deGrom will advance to throwing breaking pitches today when he throws a fourth bullpen session on his road to returning to the Rangers’ rotation after a bout with elbow inflammation.
He threw only fastballs Monday as he attempted to simulate two innings Monday at Pittsburgh. If all goes well today, he could face hitters next.
The question then becomes if the Rangers want to send him on a rehab assignment or build him up every fifth day, which could put an extra workload on the bullpen. But if deGrom is A) going to be good and B) going to be fragile, maybe the Rangers want to use his bullets in a game that counts rather than in the minors.
DeGrom leans that way, too, but he also won’t be making the final decision. He will have input, but general manager Chris Young will weigh the pros and cons of not sending deGrom on a rehab assignment.
There are a few steps deGrom must pass, though, before the Rangers have to cross that bridge.
Mitch Garver is on rehab assignment at Triple A Round Rock in Albuquerque, which happens to be Garver’s home town. He had the night off Thursday but is 4 for 8 with a home run in two games.
Card of the Week
Aaron Zavala has returned to Double A Frisco after offseason elbow surgery, and he also returned to the Rangers Today Baseball Podcast a week ago.
He was at spring training this year but working out with the rehabbers, so he was a tough find at the Surprise Recreation Campus. My son had a couple Zavala cards at the ready to be autographed, but had no luck finding him.
Just in case we don’t run into Zavala at Riders Field, I’m watching the Card of the Week on ebay to see if it might be worth a bid. It’s Zavala’s 2021 Bowman Draft Chrome 1st Bowman purple refractor.
The Rangers haven’t closed the door on Zavala making his MLB debut this season even though he missed the first five weeks of the season. He has an advanced approached that he rarely abandons, and he has figured out how to use his lower have to generate more power.
He impressed the Rangers with how he handled his long rehab assignment, coming out of it stronger than he was when injured during the Arizona Fall League.
Now, it’s just a matter of finding his rhythm.
Me, at 48, when the Zoom call starts. Enjoy.
When you’re over 40 and the movie starts.. pic.twitter.com/avA0s0URR2
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) May 25, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com