Chirinos Believes Rangers Rotation is Good Enough to Get to the Postseason
ARLINGTON, Texas — There is a lot riding on the Texas Rangers' starting rotation.
General manager Jon Daniels made up for missing out on Anthony Rendon in free agency by upgrading all three spots in the rotation behind incumbent hurlers Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. Adding Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles, and two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber unequivocally shifted the strength of the Rangers from the plate to the mound.
One offensive upgrade the Rangers did make this offseason was reuniting with catcher Robinson Chirinos, who spent the 2019 season as the Houston Astros' primary backstop. Not only does Chirinos improve the offensive output from the catcher position, but he brings a critical season of postseason experience as Houston went all the way to game seven of the World Series, losing to the Washington Nationals.
As a key part of Houston's battery, Chirinos caught elite pitching with the Astros, including Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who finished first and second in the AL Cy Young voting respectively. Even after that kind of experience, Chirinos speaks highly of his new rotation in Arlington, claiming they are not only good enough to carry this Rangers team to the postseason, but maybe even to the World Series.
“These guys are good. They look good right now. They did everything to be ready for this short season. I’m excited for what we’re going to do as a pitching staff to give this team a chance to get back to the postseason," Chirinos said.
"I just pray everybody can stay healthy throughout this short season. I think that’s the key. We can’t afford to lose any guys. They’re going to give us a chance to win every single day. The offense just needs to put runs on the board for these guys because they’re going to keep the games close for us. I’m excited. It’s going to be a good season for us here.”
Chirinos provides some of that offense as one of the better hitting catchers in the game right now. He joins a lineup that boasts a budding star in Joey Gallo and the enigmatic Rougned Odor, who had a strong spring and has seemingly picked up where he left off at Summer Camp.
Even though Chirinos was only away from the Rangers for a year, he spoke highly of Gallo's growth.
"Joey is a different guy. I like the way Joey's handled himself right now," Chirinos said. "He's talking more in the clubhouse. He's gone from being the guy in the corner like doesn't talk as much to a leader of the team. As a teammate, I love that."
Rangers fans need no explanation of how good Odor can be. Inconsistency has been Odor's achilles heel, which has driven fans crazy over the past three seasons. However, manager Chris Woodward believes in the adjustments Odor made in 2019 and Chirinos believes in what he's seeing as well.
"Rougie cares, man," Chirinos said. "I know his last year was tough for him. He went into the offseason and did a lot of new stuff, and I'm excited about the way he looks right now. I know he's going to be a key for this team. He looks good, he prepared himself really well for this season. And I'm excited about what he's bringing to this team this year."
A 60-game season is difficult to predict. The Rangers have a favorable first half of the schedule and the club is hopeful Gallo will recover from COVID-19 before the season begins on July 24. If there are no hiccups with the rotation, the Rangers could potentially get off to a fast start, not unlike their 2019 campaign where they were in a playoff spot after 60 games.
The Rangers are undoubtedly better on paper than they were in 2019. How that plays out in 2020 remains yet to be seen.