Pre-Season Predictions

We are single digits away from Opening Day, (8) to be specific. It appears most of the roster decisions have been made already though a few outliers remain as Bruce Bochy and staff solidify the Opening Day 26-man roster. While many of us hold onto hope that Jordan Montgomery finds his way back to Texas this season, Chris Young has instilled confidence in moving forward with the starting rotation as is.

Many of us forget that Eovaldi, Gray, Heaney and Dunning made up the bulk of starts last season which turned out pretty good for the Rangers. Cody Bradford was excellent in his post-season debut and has been tremendous thus far in Spring Camp. Max Scherzer looks to be on track for a late-May or early-June return. Tyler Mahle appears to be an All-Star break addition, and Jacob deGrom should be ready come August. With or without Montgomery, I’ll take my odds with the current rotation knowing the run support they should receive with the Rangers offense.

Speaking of the Rangers offense, get used to seeing familiar faces up and down the lineup. Mitch Garver and Robbie Grossman are the only key members not returning in 2024 as the Rangers seek to defend their title. (Full Count) Evan Carter will hope to pick up where he left off as he enters his first full season with the club. Josh Jung looks to be ready for Opening Day and I join Bochy in the optimism that Corey Seager joins him in the lineup. Nathaniel Lowe will be the missing link for the first few weeks, but look for him to be a late-April return.

The talk of Spring Training has been Wyatt Langford, and with good reason. The top draft pick in 2023 cleared every minor league obstacle last season, and has not slowed down in Spring Camp producing a slash line of .378/.442/.759/1.198. He leads all MLB this spring in RBI (17), but has struggled with strikeouts (13). All said, I don’t see any version of Opening Day that doesn’t include Langford on the 26-man roster.

OPENING DAY PREDICTIONS
As the Rangers take the field on March 28th, I anticpate the lineup will look as follows:
1. Marcus Semien (2B)
2. Corey Seager (SS)
3. Wyatt Langford (DH)
4. Adolis Garcia (RF)
5. Evan Carter (LF)
6. Josh Jung (3B)
7. Jonah Heim (C)
8. Ezequiel Duran (1B)
9. Leody Taveras (CF)
(SP) Nathan Eovaldi

Off the bench we have Andrew Knizner, Travis Jankowski, Justin Foscue and Jose Berrero. If Seager is unable to start on Opening Day, look for Duran at SS and Foscue playing 1B. Berrero has been good thus far with the Rangers, and is out of options. I don’t foresee him clearing waivers and I don’t think the Rangers want to see him snatched up. Josh Smith, to me, looks to be the odd-man out in this scenario.

The starting rotation will consist of Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning and Cody Bradford. I’ve elected to split the lefties with Dunning, but Bochy could very well go back to back here.

Backing up the starters in the bullpen will be Jose Urena, Brock Burke, Marc Church, Diego Castillo, Kirby Yates, Josh Sborz, David Robertson and Jose Leclerc. Urena could easily be switched with Jacob Latz or Jack Leiter as both have been great in camp. Urena has been solid and is out of options, so I give him the edge here. If Leiter has a couple solid starts at AAA, look for him to be up with the club for most of 2024.

Injury wise, here is my guess for who starts 2024 on the IL:
Nathaniel Lowe (15-Day IL)
Max Scherzer (15-Day IL)
Tyler Mahle (60-Day IL)
Jacob deGrom (60-Day IL)

2024 SEASON PREDICTIONS
It’s hard to know what will happen over the course of a 162-game schedule. One thing is for certain, injuries will occur. Pitchers will need time off as the season goes along and hopefully that time off is short and not season ending. Position players need days to get off their feet, and often the aches and strains of the season land them on the shorter IL lists. All of this doesn’t even reflect poor performances that land someone a demotion to AAA.

Before diving into who we could see on the big league club throughout the year, here are my stat line predictions for those in the Opening Day lineup:
(HR, RBI, BA/OBP/SLG/OPS)
Marcus Semien (21 HR, 90 RBI, .288/.379/.456/.794)
Corey Seager (41 HR, 108 RBI, .302/.388/.640/1.028)
Wyatt Langford (19 HR, 71 RBI, .244/.303/.421/.724)
Adolis Garcia (45 HR, 111 RBI, .255/.344/.523/.867)
Evan Carter (20 HR, 68 RBI, .282/.370/.326/.696)
Josh Jung (22 HR, 75 RBI, .274/.332/.459/.779)
Jonah Heim (19 HR, 89 RBI, .261/.320/.441/.761)
Ezequiel Duran (18 HR, 50 RBI, .270/.316/.444/.760)
Leody Taveras (17 HR, 52 RBI, .265/.310/.417/.727)

With potential injuries and slumps on the horizon, look to see Sam Huff, Jonathan Ornelas, Blaine Crim and Dustin Harris make their way to the big league club at points this season.

Pitching depth will be key for the Rangers this season, and they’ll need help from their opening day guys, as well as those who get the call during the summer months. One, in particular, is Jack Leiter who I think will be a key contributor to the rotation and bullpen for the Rangers this season. Alongside Leiter, we could expect to see Owen White, Grant Anderson, Jose Corniell, Jonathan Hernandez, Yerry Rodriguez, Jacob Latz, Zak Kent and Antione Kelly. Cole Winn could be another name in the mix, but his struggles lead me to believe he will spend the year in AAA.

Overall, I see the Rangers putting together a record of 101-61 and winning the AL West. I’ll wait for postseason predictions until we hit that moment (but obviously we see a repeat title taking place).

2024 Storyline Highlights
AL Rookie of the Year Becomes Rangers’ Showdown: Take your pick, Wyatt Langford or Evan Carter. Both are highly touted prospects across all of baseball and both have showed up (and showed out) this Spring. Carter has a slight edge having MLB experience following his impressive debut in 2023. Langford, on the other hand, has not skipped a beat since being drafted #4 overall last summer. Both are five-tool players who possess a calm demeanor in the box. Carter gets the edge when it comes to defense, Langford gets the edge when it comes to power. Flip a coin, but I’d be shocked if the AL Rookie of the Year award doesn’t wind up in Arlington this season.

El Bombi Steals the Mid-Summer Spotlight: The 2024 All-Star Game is in Arlington, and what a time it is for the Rangers to showcase their franchise. Not only will they be the reigning World Series Champions, but Bruce Bochy will be managing the American League squad. I’ll set the over/under at 4.5 for Rangers players suiting up for Bochy this July. One of the highlights each All-Star Game is the Home Run Derby. Last year, Adolis Garcia was bounced in the first round by his buddy Randy Arozarena. In his element, and the crowd behind him, look for El Bombi to take the crown and steal the show in 2024.

Scherzer/deGrom Drink from Fountain of Youth: Scherzer enters the 2024 season at 39 years of age, turning 40 in late July. deGrom will be 36 years of age when he returns to the rotation in August. Both are coming off injuries, and both want to prove they are still the best in the game when healthy. Though their first few starts might not be the dominate performances we’ve grown accustomed to, I don’t see that being the new normal. My prediction is the Rangers start the ALDS with a deGrom/Scherzer/Eovaldi/Mahle rotation. deGrom and Scherzer will continue their late season dominance into the postseason, leading the Rangers to a 2-0 series lead. As long as the offense stays hot, look for this trend to continue in the ALCS and World Series.
(Also, expect plenty of these performances from deGoat)

These eight days are going to feel like an eternity. Bring on baseball!!

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