2023 Opponent Preview: Texas Rangers

Amid a six-game losing streak, the Reds return home today as they look to thaw out their ice-cold bats. The competition won’t get any easier, however, as the Rangers roll into town for a three-game series.

  • Monday (6:40 p.m. ET)
  • Tuesday (6:40 p.m. ET)
  • Wednesday (12:35 p.m. ET)

Guided by a new manager, the legendary manager Bruce Bochy, Texas currently leads the AL West with a 14-7 record and has won 10 of its last 13 games. The Rangers have been outstanding on both sides of the ball. Only the Rays have scored more runs, and the Texas ranks in the top 10 in ERA, FIP, xFIP, strikeout rate, and walk rate.

The teams haven’t faced each other since 2019, when the Rangers took two of three games in Great American Ball Park. The Reds haven’t won a series against the Rangers since 2004.


Few teams have expanded their payroll like the Rangers in the last two years. In 2021, the team’s player payroll was about $98 million; this year, it sits at an estimated $201 million according to FanGraphs.

After finishing with a losing record for six consecutive years, the Rangers had their second straight busy offseason. Prior to last season, the team brought in middle infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien and pitchers Jon Gray and Martin Perez via free agency. The team was still 68-94 in 2022, fourth in the AL West, in large part due to a subpar pitching staff.

Under new general manager and former big-league pitcher Chris Young, the Rangers not only hired Bochy as their new manager but kept spending during the offseason, addressing their biggest need by signing Jacob deGrom to a five-year, $185 million contract. The club also brought in veteran pitchers Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi to round out the rotation, and Perez accepted the team’s qualifying offer after his all-star season in 2022. The team also brought in Robbie Grossman to serve as a designated hitter and fourth outfielder.

Meanwhile, the Rangers’ losses were minimal. The only significant contributor from the 2022 squad no longer on the team is reliever Matt Moore, who signed with the Angels.

Position Players

Here are the 13 position players on the Rangers active roster (stats updated through Sunday):

The big name missing is Seager, who strained his left hamstring while legging out a double on April 11 and is expected to miss at least four weeks. The team is also without a member of their catching duo, Mitch Garver, who sprained his left knee a few days before Seager’s injury.

The offense has endured those injuries with some unexpected contributions from Jonah Heim and former Reds outfielder Travis Jankowski, and strong starts from their other two stars, Semien and right fielder Adolis Garcia — who hit three home runs on Saturday.

Here’s the Rangers’ typical lineup against right-handed pitchers (platoon players bolded and italicized):

  1. Marcus Semien
  2. Travis Jankowski
  3. Nathaniel Lowe
  4. Adolis Garcia
  5. Josh Jung
  6. Jonah Heim
  7. Robbie Grossman
  8. Josh Smith
  9. Leody Taveras

Ezequiel Duran has played shortstop against left-handed starters, while Bubba Thompson has started in left field.


Here are the 13 pitchers on the Rangers active roster:

Starting Rotation

The Rangers were a bottom-10 rotation by most metrics in 2022. After signing deGrom, Eovaldi, and Heaney as well as re-signing Perez, the club has turned it around thus far in 2023. They currently rank in the top 10 in MLB in FIP, xFIP, SIERA, xERA, and strikeout rate.

Fortunately for the Reds, they’ll miss deGrom in this series. Here are the probable pitching matchups:

  • Monday: Nick Lodolo vs. Nathan Eovaldi
  • Tuesday: Luke Weaver vs. Martin Perez
  • Wednesday: Graham Ashcraft vs. Jon Gray


A similar turnaround has occurred in the Rangers bullpen, which currently leads baseball in xERA and ranks third in ERA and FIP. Is it sustainable? Maybe not. The group ranks in the bottom half of the league in strikeout and walk rate, and they have just a 4.8% home-run-to-flyball-ratio despite having one of the lowest ground-ball rates in baseball.

Will Smith and Jose Leclerc have shared closing duties for the Rangers thus far. Jonathan Hernandez has also seen his fair share of high-leverage innings, as have the team’s other two lefty relievers, Brock Burke and Cole Ragans.

Final Thoughts

Coming into the season, the Rangers were projected to finish fourth in their division by every major prognosticator (ZiPS, FanGraphs, PECOTA). So far, they’ve exceeded expectations, currently holding the league’s second-best run differential behind only the Rays — granted, six of their games (29%) have been against the woeful Royals and Athletics. While it seems unlikely they’ll be able to hold off the Astros all season, the Rangers are firing on all cylinders early in the season — not exactly what the Reds are looking for as they try to snap a six-game losing streak.

The good news: Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft both pitch during the series, which should at least give the Reds a chance to hang around. The Reds have also been much better at home (6-6) than on the road (1-9). But none of that will matter unless the ice-cold offense, which hasn’t homered in a week, can get rolling against a formidable Texas pitching staff.

Featured Photo: Rangers Twitter

Matt Wilkes

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.