Tuesday newsletter time: A good win, and a big pitching development for Rangers
(AP photo/Lindsey Wasson)
A lot of good happened Monday night for the Rangers in Seattle, including a 2-1 victory in which they didn’t have base runner until the seventh inning.
One of baseball’s best offenses found away to score twice in the seventh.
The back of the bullpen did its job, which has been a dicey proposition at times the past few weeks.
But the biggest development was the performance of right-hander Jon Gray.
He was really good. Compared to how he had been pitching, he was terrific.
He said last week that there had been spurts of good, just not enough of them. He was clearly aggravated, saying he wasn’t having much fun, but knew that his funk was only temporary.
After allowing a first-inning solo homer and three singles over seven innings, his woes look to be behind him. Gray struck out eight and needed only 89 pitches to get 21 outs.
He made his best pitch in the fifth inning. The bases were loaded with one out, but Gray got Julio Rodriguez to bounce into a an inning-ending double play to keep the scored at 1-0.
The Rangers broke through in the seventh, a rally that started with Marcus Semien punching a grounder into center fielder to break up Logan Gilbert’s bid for a perfect game. After a generous call third strike on Robbie Grossman, Nate Lowe singled and Adolis Garcia walked before Josh Jung sent a sacrifice fly to center field.
Jonah Heim followed with an RBI single for a 2-1 lead, and Gilbert was gone.
Once handed the lead, Gray got quick three outs in the seventh. He could have gone another inning, but was probably pulled after seven because he hadn’t gone that far this season.
Jonathan Hernandez, Brock Burke and Will Smith finished off the win. It was a really good win in which good things happened for them.
But the best thing that happened was Gray pitching well and looking like he has broken out of his funk.
The Rangers have seven prospects on the 40-man roster who have never played in the major leagues.
Three of them are position players. Sam Huff no longer qualifies as a prospect, having exhausted his rookie status, but he’s also on the 40-man, also in the minors and also a position player.
That’s all relevant because the Rangers might need a position player for the 26-man active roster today.
Outfielder Travis Jankowski has a bit of a hamstring injury and is flirting with the injured list. The Rangers can’t add a reliever because there must be a 13-13 split of pitchers and position players.
So, Armchair GM, what’s your move?
The Rangers, of course, aren’t required to add someone on the 40-man. They also aren’t required to add an outfielder.
But if they go off the 40, they have to create a roster spot by designating a player for assignment.
There might be more than one transaction in that case.
The Rangers could conceivably DFA catcher Sandy Leon and recall Huff. Mitch Garver is expected to be back later in the month, and a few weeks of part-time play won’t disrupt Huff’s development much.
With a 40-man spot open, the Rangers could select the contract of, well, a lot of players, but outfielder Rafael Ortega could have the edge. Elier Hernandez might be a candidate. Justin Foscue will need a 40-man spot at some point before November so that he isn’t exposed to the Rule 5 draft, so why not now?
This whole discussion might be moot if the Rangers decide to give Jankowski a chance to avoid the IL. That would be easier than trying to juggle the roster.
Seager by Monday?
The word out of Seattle is that Corey Seager will be going on a rehab assignment Thursday. Triple A Round Rock and Double A Frisco are both at home, and both are in play for the All-Star shortstop.
No matter where he winds up, he could play four games before the Rangers return from their West Coast road trip and open a homestand Monday against the Braves.
Four might not be enough. Seager’s swing is probably fine, but the Rangers would likely prefer that he play shortstop for at least seven innings. Normally, rehabbing players build up to seven or nine innings.
I say normally because of the Adrian Beltre factor. Beltre hated rehab assignments and often didn’t even bother going on one. The guess here is Seager isn’t a fan either.
Just wanted to throw that out there.
But general manager Chris Young has used extreme caution with every injury this season, and the Rangers are doing just fine without Seager. They will be better with him, in theory, but they have some cushion to play with here.
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