By: Nicholas Gilanfar
With the wild card series sweep against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rangers playoff lives will stay intact as they plan to face the Baltimore Orioles in a best of five divisional series starting on Saturday October 6.
Both Texas and Baltimore have dealt with lengthy rebuilds not making the playoffs since 2016. Fast forward to 2023, they now are three wins away from punchingtheir ticket to the ALCS versus the winner of Minnesota/Houston.
While the Rangers had to get through the Tampa Bay Rays to advance to the ADLS, Baltimore finished the season at 101-61 clinching the AL East as well as the best record in the American League giving them a first-round bye as the first seed. Because of the bye, the Orioles have not played since last Sunday and the Rangers are coming off two days rest so it will be interesting to see what becomes the upper edge in this matchup.
Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles Schedule
Saturday, October 7 @ Baltimore Orioles. 12:03 (CST)
Sunday, October 8 @ Baltimore Orioles. 3:07 (CST)
Tuesday, October 10 vs. Baltimore Orioles. 7:03 (CST)
Wednesday, October 11 vs. Baltimore Orioles. 6:07 (CST) (If Necessary)
Friday, October 13 @ Baltimore Orioles. 7:03 (CST) (If Necessary)
Rangers vs. Orioles Head-to-Head in 2023
Texas and Baltimore played in a total of six games together with each team winning three games. The two teams played early in the season as both series took place in the first two months of the season with neither team having a legitimate identity as serious contenders. In each game, they were all tight knit and the team that eventually went victorious were the ones who had an outstanding pitching performance.
The first three game series between the two took place in the second series of the year after the Rangers came off a stunning sweep against the past National League Champions Philadelphia Phillies. With the Rangers riding high, Baltimore came into town taking the first two games in dominate fashion. Luckily,the Rangers mustered up the last game of the series to avoid the sweep for the first time of the year.
The second three game stand followed shortly after the first series at the end of May while both upcoming teams at the time were surging. To kick off the series the Rangers started firing on all cylinders putting Baltimore on notice with a 12-2 victory and eventually won the series 2-1 as that was the point in time the baseball community started to figure out what kind of team the rangers would be moving forward.
Texas Rangers Scouting Report
The 2-0 sweep over the Tampa Bay Rays was done in motivating fashion with the goal to move into the ALDS as well as having the chance to play some home games for the first time in 2011 in the MLB playoffs. There were questions coming into the series about starting pitching as well as the bottom of the lineup, but the rangers got outside the doubters and dominatedall sectors of the game starting with starting pitching as well as their young rising stars.
Texas Rangers Projected Starting Rotation
Andrew Heaney (Game 1)
Jordon Montgomery (Game 2)
Nathan Eovaldi (Game 3)
As there were many questions on who would start Game 1, the Rangers decided to give Andrew Heaney the nod over Dane Dunning and Martin Perez. Heaney was a staple in the rotation for most of the season, appearing in 34 games with a record of 10-6 and a 4.15 ERA. Before the announcement of Heany’s game one start, it was likely Dunning was going to get the ball but then it was noted that the Baltimore lineup primarily are lefties, so manager Bruce Bochy loves the matchup of Heaney who is a left-handed pitcher and excels against left-handedhitters. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers can yet again string a stellar pitching performance while letting up one run in two games.
In recent developments, Rangers Starting pitcher Max Scherzer has started to ramp up his rehab process as he threw a live bull pen session on Friday. Scherzer looked sharp and maintained his stamina and pitch count but is likely not to be activated for the first two games but could make an appearance as an injury replacement beyond that. But it is more than certain that Scherzer will be making his return beyond the ALDS if the Rangers advance.
Texas Rangers Offense
The streaking Texas offense is on the right side of history now scoring 11 runs and tallying 21 hits with the two wild card games with Tampa Bay. The offensive production featured the likes of Corey Seager, Josh Jung, and Evan Carter. It is evidentwhat Texas gets from Corey Seager on a game-to-game basis as he is hitting an average of.500 in the playoffs as the AL MVP contender is not losing any gas.
As for Jung and Carter, it is great to get the young guys involved ahead of their first playoff series. Jung took a lengthy stint on the IL making his return about two weeks ago as he is taking on a new role as the #8 hitter amidst a slow return. So far Jung has gone .375 in the playoffs as he went hitless in the first game and went 3-4 in game two. Aside from Jung’s dominance in the eighth spot, Carter has been hitting ninth and has gotten on base seven out of eight times in the playoffs forcing three hits, three walks and one hit by pitch making his presence felt at such an early age at 21 playing with plenty of poise.
Another development to keep in mind is Robbie Grossman hitting in the three spots with an average at .111 for the playoffs. Grossman has been slotted at the DH which is Mitch Garver’s spot. There have been recent suspicions that Garver is dealing with some injuries, so they are most confident in putting Grossman as DH rather than anyone else in the lineup. If Grossman continues to struggle and Garver is still hurt, the favorable decision to make would be seeing if Travis Jankowski or Josh Smith can get anything going in the DH slot from the bench.
Baltimore Orioles Scouting Report
The Baltimore Orioles rebuild has done its course after having the #1 ranked farm system for two years, the future roster is finally starting to take shape. The Orioles are an incredibly young team with most of their batting order being in their first or second year. It is likely that playoff jitters for the young guys will come into effect but all season this team has executed and taken shape as a legitimate contender.
Baltimore Orioles Projected Starting Rotation
Kyle Bradish (Game 1)
Grayson Rodriguez (Game 2)
So far there are only two starters announced as of late as they have many options for game three starter by either going with Kyle Gibson or Jack Flaherty. Both Bradish and Rodriguez will be playing their first playoff games as both guys are young holding the bulk for most of the season in the starting rotation.
Kyle Bradish had a breakout campaign this year serving as the team’s primary ace appearing in 30 games posting a 10-6 record with a 2.83 ERA. This was Bradish’s second year as he looks to start in the most important game of his young career. One Factor about Bradish’s game is stamina as he can go six plus innings from time to time.
For game two starter Grayson Rodriguez, he was the club’s #1 prospect for about three years until he made his highly anticipated debut coincidently against the Rangers early in the season. Rodriguez started the campaign with about 10 starts, posting an ERA of over seven. Due to an underwhelming start, Rodriguez was optioned to AAA Norfolk but since he has returned from the minors it is likely he has started to turn the corner as he will represent Baltimore in the playoffs for game two as he put up a regular season record of 7-4 with a 4.35 ERA.
Baltimore Orioles Offense
One of the top storylines for the 2023 season in Baltimore is the potent lineup for the Orioles. The batting order is headlined by young studs C Adley Rutschman, SS Gunnar Henderson, and 2B Jordan Westburg who were all top mlb prospect coming into this season.
Along with the breakouts of Baltimore’s young stars the guys that have stuck around during the rebuild and take veteran leadership roles are outfields Austin Hays, Antony Santander, and Cedric Mullins along with 1B Ryan Mountcastle. Those four guys went through the ringer in this gruesome seven year rebuild as not long ago in 2021 the Baltimore Orioles finished with the worst record in the American League.
This young lineup is a force to be reckoned with and taken seriously. Out of the nine hitters in game one five of them are lifted handed which Andre Heaney excels in. The road to the fall Classic rolls on starting on Saturday October 7th as the winner of the ALDS will face Minnesota Twins or Houston Astros in the ALCS.
Featured Image via Art Garcia/Sports Illustrated