Monday newsletter time: Rangers’ kid in left field leaves impression on Astros’ Dusty Baker
(AP photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)
HOUSTON — Evan Carter drew some laughter Sunday night in the interview room at Minute Maid Park.
He had just helped the Rangers beat the Astros 2-0 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, and a reporter was flummoxed by the moxie and ability Carter is showing under baseball’s bright lights at the ripe age of 21.
“I appreciate it,” he said.
Maybe you had to be there.
The humble rookie who was spent almost all season in the minor leagues did more great stuff to help the Rangers win their sixth consecutive game to open the postseason. He made two difficult catches, another that might have given other left fielders trouble, and legged out a double on a deflected groundball to set up the Rangers’ first run.
The Rangers know all about Carter by now, but he was playing the Astros for the first time and made quite an impression.
“Boy, the young left fielder made some heck of plays,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
The first great play came in the first inning as Carter raced into the left-field corner and jumped ever so slightly to catch Alex Bregman’s bid for a double. Carter victimized Bregman again in the eighth with a leaping catch at in front of the wall.
THIS KID IS UNREAL.
WHAT A CATCH BY EVAN CARTER 🤯
📺: FOX pic.twitter.com/RmnNSwejyH
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 16, 2023
The catch was the start of what turned into a double play as Jose Altuve failed to retouch second base on his way back to first to avoid being doubled off.
“And he had a hit and scored a run,” Baker said. “He had a very good game.”
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery thought he might be allowed a little more leash in Game 1. He returned to the mound for the seventh inning and quickly got the first batter, but saw manager Bruce Bochy make the slow walk to the mound.
Everything worked out, Montgomery noted. Meanwhile, many baseball writers were noting that Montgomery is a free agent after the season and keeps adding millions to his contract with every solid postseason outing.
They’re not wrong, and the Rangers could again find themselves fighting to re-sign a left-hander coming off a stellar postseason. It didn’t work out well in 2010, when Cliff Lee left for the Phillies. (C.J. Wilson didn’t re-sign after the 2011 season, but he didn’t have a stellar playoff run.)
The Rangers should attempt to keep Montgomery, who is making $10 million this season. The rotation is expected to lose lefty Martin Perez, and there’s always a chance Andrew Heaney could turn down his $12.5 million player option. With Jacob deGrom out until August and the farm system short on options, Montgomery would be a key addition.
Throw a five-year, $100 million contract his way and see what happens.
Jose Leclerc finished off the Astros for his second save of the postseason, though he’s pitched in all six games, and is showing the kind of stuff the Rangers thought he would have at the beginning of the season.
This could be his last season with the Rangers as he, too, is headed toward free agency if the Rangers decline his option.. So are Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith, for those who like to live dangerously.
Those three have served as Rangers closers this season with varying results. They’ve all struggled but also have done a lot of good things.
Failing to bring back any of them would leave the closer’s role to Josh Sborz. Dozens of relievers will be available via free agency, but Leclerc seems like the kind of guy who would give the Rangers a hometown deal if they wanted to extend him.
Would three years and $20 million get it done? That’s a high price tag for a team that traditionally doesn’t believe there is value in splurging on bullpen help. So is his $6,250,000 option.
They might not have a choice this offseason.
Rangers Today hopes you’re not missing of our content, though we understand that weekends can suck up free time. If you were at a kid’s game or on the golf course or at Amon G. Carter Stadium watching TCU blow the doors off of BYU, here’s our latest content in case you missed it. (And here’s where to subscribe for only $5.99 a month or $60 a year).
Game 1 recap: A catch and a replay
The Sunday Read: Rivalry, but …
Rangers notes: Gray throws, Semien shows
Friday on the Farm: Jack Leiter speaks
Jose Altuve on the bases late in Game 1. Enjoy.
Uh oh! pic.twitter.com/NvEtEgrmnI
— Heckin Good Dogs (@HeckinGoodDogs) October 14, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com