Jordan Lyles, Kyle Gibson Seeking a Strong Finish to Carry Into 2021

Chris Halicke

Texas Rangers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels has already given a direction for the 2021 version of the club. As the Rangers attempt to forge an identity for next season, it will primarily rest on the shoulders of the younger players in the organization.

There are areas Daniels and his group will have to supplement externally. The Rangers have a number of intriguing options in the field, leaving the starting rotation as the most likely area Daniels will utilize free agency and trades. However, it's still September. Things could change between now and December.

"I think we still have a lot of discussion there," Daniels told the media earlier this week. "First, I think that both Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles are capable of more than they've shown this year. Quite frankly, they've shown it very recently. So I know that they are and I think we're going to need quality innings out of those guys. Whether they're in traditional starter roles or we take another look at it."

After Gibson and Lyles were originally signed, the initial intention was to have them be a complement to the trio of Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and the eventually-acquired Corey Kluber. Depending on what the Rangers do or don't do in free agency, they could play a larger role in the 2021 rotation. There is potential for Minor and/or Kluber to return, but neither are guaranteed.

That makes the end of the season very important for both Gibson and Lyles. 2020 has been a troubling year for both hurlers. However, both seem to be trending in the right direction as the end of the season draws closer. In back-to-back games, Gibson pitched a complete-game shutout on Wednesday while Lyles pitched seven innings with only two earned runs on Thursday. 

"This season is what it is," Lyles said after his latest start in Houston. "I had a rough start from the get-go. I think my last two outings have been decent, getting outs and making a pitch here and there. (It was) a good move forward ... I don’t know how many more outings I’ve got but hopefully we can attack, continue that and go into this off-season with my chin high."

The baseball offseason may seem to be quick, but a lot can happen from the end of September until late February when pitchers and catchers report. Manager Chris Woodward still believes a strong finish in 2020 can pave the way for both Gibson and Lyles to play a vital role next season.

“I think it's there's some truth behind the success," Woodward said. "It's not like it was a fluke. They worked on some things, they talked through some things, and they adjusted some things to allow them to have success and it showed. They brought it out there on the mound with them. 

"We need them to be good. After Lance, if we're gonna have a young team and we're gonna have some young starters behind them, they need to hold down the fort. We're not asking for complete game shutouts and seven innings (and) two runs every time, but just some consistency. And I know they want that as well. They've been around a long time. They want to be successful, and hats off to them for kind of really being open to the dialogue and allowing these adjustments to take place on the field.”

If Gibson and Lyles can show Woodward, Daniels, and everybody else that the issues that led to their early season struggles are eradicated, that will make Jon Daniels' job much easier this winter. The Rangers have enough young internal pieces where maybe only one quality addition to the rotation could be enough if Gibson and Lyles can be who the Rangers think they can be.

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