The Texas Rangers split a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox that ended on Sunday. Here are three takeaways from the series.
The Kids Start Off All Right
The call-ups of pitcher Cole Ragans and outfielder Bubba Thompson, while prompted by injuries to Jon Gray and Kole Calhoun, respectively, signal a new phase of the Rangers’ progress toward being a winner again. Expect to see more young players as the season continues.
Thompson joined the Rangers on Thursday and played in all four games. While he only had two hits in his first 15 at-bats, his speed and defense that were of immediate use. He stole two bases in four games. He can play left or center field at Globe Life Field. With a manager like Chris Woodward, every time Thompson gets on base he can be destructive.
Ragans needed six years and two Tommy John surgeries to get to Arlington for his first start on Thursday against Chicago. He didn’t get the win, but he pitched five innings of one-run baseball, giving up three hits and four walks while striking out three. He’s at the bottom of the Rangers’ Top 30 prospects, but you could argue he was not only ready for this, but he was pitching the best of any starter in the minors this season.
The Rangers have an off-day Monday. Expect to see more of Thompson until Calhoun is ready to return, and then the Rangers face a decision. Ragans has a little more time to play with. Gray needs four-to-six weeks to recover from his left oblique strain. Watching his progress will be interesting as he tries to stake a claim to being a part of the Rangers’ rotation in 2023.
But the early returns are promising.
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Dunning Wins a Game (Finally)
No Rangers starter has been more of a hard-luck starter than Dane Dunning. That’s what made his win on Saturday feel like a dam-breaking moment for him this season. Dunning threw seven innings of shutout baseball, the first time he had done that all season (he threw six innings of shutout baseball on June 14 against Houston). But he also snapped a 15-start winless streak, dating back to April 30 against Atlanta (he threw 7 2/3 innings against Atlanta in a 3-1 victory). That was the longest single-season winless drought in franchise history.
Now, can Dunning string two wins together? The last time Dunning did that was in back-to-back starts on July 27 and Aug. 2, 2021, with wins over Arizona and the Los Angeles Angels. His next start should be when the Rangers return home later this week to face Seattle.
Home is Not Helpful (Yet)
With the Rangers’ 2-5 homestand, the Rangers have now lost nine of their last 11 home games and are 23-31 at home this season, which at the moment is the fifth-worst win percentage (.426) in club history and their lowest since 2018, when the Rangers went 34-47.
The Rangers have time to turn that around, but it’s going to take them being near-perfect down the stretch to accomplish it. It’s not something a Rangers fan should count on.
But it is indicative of where the Rangers are right now. This, combined with the Rangers’ horrid record in one-run games (6-24), shows us just how far the Rangers have to go to enter the world of contenders once again.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard