Thursday, December 7, 2023

Rangers likely to put Martín Pérez back in rotation in push for playoffs with AL West, wild-card spots open

The Texas Rangers have the day off Thursday before a furious 10-game stretch to close the season, during which their 2023 fate hangs in the balance. It appears they’ll be doing so with All-Star lefty Martín Pérez back in the starting rotation. 

“I think that’s fair to say,” manager Bruce Bochy said when asked about Pérez heading back to the rotation (via Rangers Today’s Jeff Wilson). 

The starting rotation for the Rangers has been quite the wild ride this season. Remember, Jacob deGrom had to undergo Tommy John surgery, while All-Star righty Nathan Eovaldi spent several weeks on the injured list and still isn’t back to being in form after his return a few starts ago, though he wasn’t bad last time. Future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer was grabbed in front of the trade deadline, but he’s now on the shelf with a shoulder injury and is out for the rest of the regular season and likely the playoffs.

Jordan Montgomery, who was also acquired in July, and Dane Dunning are safely in the rotation at this point. Jon Gray has been terrible of late. Rookie Cody Bradford hasn’t shown himself reliable just yet. Lefty Andrew Heaney isn’t reliable, either. 

Pérez, 32, lost his rotation spot after the Scherzer trade. He had a 4.98 ERA and 1.52 WHIP with 69 strikeouts in 108 1/3 innings as a starter. Out of the bullpen, Pérez has a 2.57 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 19 strikeouts in 28 innings. He’s only allowed runs in one of his last nine appearances and threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief on Wednesday against the Red Sox

The Rangers sit 84-68 heading into their game on Friday. Entering Thursday’s on-field action, the Mariners and Rangers are tied for the third and final AL wild-card spot. They are also just a half game behind the Astros in the AL West and one game behind the Blue Jays for the second AL wild-card spot. 

The Rangers play the Mariners a whopping seven times here in the final 10 days of the season. In between the two series, the Rangers will play the hapless Angels three times in Anaheim. 

The Rangers haven’t announced their exact plans for the rotation moving forward, but we can try to piece it together here. Dunning is lined up to pitch Friday. Thanks to the off-day on Thursday, Montgomery could go on regular rest Saturday with Eovaldi on normal rest Sunday. Pérez would then be on four-days’ rest on Monday against the Angels. He threw 64 pitches on Wednesday, so he could probably work up into the 80s comfortably with the four days off. Then the Rangers would have to decide on Gray, Bradford, Heaney or something else (a bullpen game?) on Tuesday. 

No matter how it lines it, monitoring the AL West and AL wild-card races the rest of the way will be off-the-charts fun.

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