Gray lands on IL with mild right groin strain

With 10 losses in their past 12 games, Rangers trying to push through skid, injuries

May 23rd, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- It’s been one step forward and two steps back for the Rangers this season.

The day after starter Dane Dunning came off of the injured list, another pitcher in landed on it with a mild right groin strain on Thursday.

Gray tossed five innings and allowed two runs in the Rangers’ series-opening loss to the Phillies on Tuesday night, but he was removed from the game after just 75 pitches. Manager Bruce Bochy announced postgame that he was feeling some tightness in his right groin, and two days later, Bochy confirmed that Gray was being placed on the injured list, though the team didn't think he'd need much more than the 15 days.

The Rangers dropped the final two games in Philadelphia after a pair of 3 1/3-inning starts from Dunning on Wednesday and Andrew Heaney on Thursday, when they were swept for the second time this season with a 5-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park.

Texas has now lost four straight games and 10 of its last 12.

“It hasn't been great, we know that,” Heaney said. “But guys are gonna come in here and put in the work. It's not going to stop. We have to come play again tomorrow. So you gotta go out there and keep plugging away.”

But Gray might have been the biggest loss for Texas on Thursday, much more than any game.

Gray has been in the midst of one of his best stretches in his Rangers tenure, posting a 2.21 ERA in 11 games (10 starts). He has 56 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 57 innings. After his first start of the season in which he allowed five earned runs in a no-decision vs. the Cubs, Gray hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his next 10 outings (nine starts).

Gray joins fellow starters Nathan Eovaldi, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Cody Bradford and Tyler Mahle on the IL. Bradford was moved to the 60-day IL as well on Thursday, likely further delaying his return from a back/rib injury. He was recently shut down from throwing again.

Eovaldi, who landed on the IL on May 3 with a right groin strain of his own, is the closest to returning, but the training staff is still unclear about if he will need a rehab assignment before jumping back into big league action.

“We may have to adjust because of our pitching situation, but we’re talking about that now,” Bochy said.

Bochy said José Ureña and Michael Lorenzen will start the first two games in Minnesota this weekend, but there is no plan yet for the series finale on Sunday. Dunning and Heaney, the only other healthy starters, will be unavailable. Rookie Jack Leiter started on Wednesday with Triple-A Round Rock.

There’s no doubt the Rangers are in a bit of a pickle when it comes to the rotation, but that’s no different than what they’ve been through all season long.

“The only way I know to get through this and handle what's been going on is to power through it,” Bochy said. “That's how we have to approach it, you know, because what else are you gonna do? You can talk about the injuries or not scoring runs, whatever. Man, you gotta just toughen up and keep pushing. That's what we talked about briefly yesterday.”

And honestly, the Rangers have definitely tried their best to keep pushing, especially as the rotation has been the most impressive aspect during a rough stretch of games. Texas starters have kept the club in more contests than not, even throughout an 8-13 record in May.

Despite all the injuries, the Rangers’ rotation has boasted a 3.68 ERA, good for 11th in MLB. And though Heaney struggled in Thursday’s loss, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings, he had a 2.49 ERA over his previous four starts.

“It was not that long ago that we were five games over .500,” Bochy said. “This has been a tough streak, no getting around it, but now they need to know you're staying behind them. It's easy to like your guys when they're playing well, but when you go through tough times, that's when they need the support, belief. So as a staff, we're going to do what we can over the weekend to help out and help them get better.”