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Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers’ offense needs jump-start

(Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports)

 

Bruce Bochy turned 69 on Tuesday, but the Rangers’ offense might be aging him even more than that.

The lineup continues to wallow in an early-season funk, either because of injuries to Josh Jung and Nathaniel Lowe, the continued build-up of Corey Seager or the days off regulars are getting during this run of 17 games in 17 days.

It’s likely a combination of all three, and it reared its head again Tuesday afternoon in a 4-2 loss at Comerica Park.

The Rangers’ two runs Tuesday came in the fifth inning as they pieced together a series of singles. Seager just missed a three-run homer that was caught by Tigers right fielder Wenceel Perez as he reached his glove above the short wall.

The Bally broadcast later showed a graphic indicating that the wind keep Seager’s ball out of the seats.

Instead, the Rangers have scored two, five, one and two runs in the past four games and are 1-3. They have games with 12 and seven runs in the past week, but the bountiful feast of the high-scoring games of 2023 has been replaced by a hunger strike.

Help is coming. Lowe continued his rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple A Round Rock but is thought to be more than a week away. Once the Rangers get through the next five games, they will enjoy regular days off and feel more comfortable playing their regulars for extended stretches.

For now, trust the birthday boy. The Rangers played an extra month last season, which resulted in one less month to recover, and they are planning to be back in the postseason this year. Giving players time now should make them stronger down the stretch, in theory.

Also, keep in mind that the season isn’t even 20 games old yet. This offense is going to produce, and Bochy might shake things up the next few games in the hopes of finding a combination that gets the offense going.

Gray’s good stuff

The best part of the Rangers’ Tuesday was the performance of right-hander Jon Gray, who allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings. He struck out seven and walked three, and the first run against him scored when Evan Carter misplayed a single to right field.

Gray was bothered by the walks, the result of some misses with his fastball, but he pitched really well for the second straight start.

Considering the state of the rotation, with Cody Bradford on the injured list and Andrew Heaney not yet firing on all cylinders, Gray’s past two starts rate as encouraging. Even Gray, his own worst critic, is encouraged.

His fastball looked to top out at 94. There’s more there, which should also rate as encouraging. If the lack of velocity is forcing him to pitch instead of overpower, maybe he’ll be even better later in the season.

With Michael Lorenzen in the rotation along with Nathan Eovaldi and Dane Dunning, who is scheduled to start today, Gray would give the Rangers a fourth solid starter. Max Scherzer isn’t very far away.

If the rotation can keep games close and get deeper into games, the Rangers are going to be in good shape.

Leiter’s promotion

The Rangers revealed Tuesday morning the identity of the pitcher who will make a spot start Thursday in the series finale against the Tigers.

It’s right-hander Jack Leiter, who impressed in spring training and was very good in his first three starts of the Triple A season for Round Rock.

Some on the Twitter seemed to be surprised. Big Jose Ureña fans, apparently, or maybe they’re about eight months behind the Leiter news cycle. He’s been very good since being taken out of the competition last summer to work on his craft.

This might be just a one-off for the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, and that’s fine. He’ll be on the 40-man roster and only a phone call away.

Considering how things have gone for the Rangers on the injury front, maybe something will shake out that keeps Leiter on the big-league roster.

(Ureña, by the way, has been very good in the bullpen. Yes, he was tagged with the loss Sunday and Tuesday, but both he and Jacob Latz were unlucky in the eighth inning as each allowed a run following a couple of soft singles against Latz.)

There will be much more on Leiter in the coming days. For now, know that he’s earned this opportunity.

 

Doggy video!

Near-death by lemon. Enjoy.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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