How the Rangers fared in the first half

July 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry’s Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Rangers stumbled into the All-Star break, closing out the first half with series losses to the Red Sox and Nationals -- both of whom sit in last place in their respective divisions. Potentially even more troubling, Texas’ lead atop the AL West fell to just two games over Houston, after being at six games just over a week prior.

Despite its June and July struggles, the club still entered the break with a 52-39 record, good for one of the best first halves in franchise history.

That said, here is a midseason report on the 2023 Texas Rangers as they look to continue leading the AL West in the second half of the season.

What we learned in the first half: They’re legit contenders … but can they continue to hold off the Astros? 

As the Rangers’ lead over the AL West shrank to two games, they skidded to a 17-19 record over the last 36 games heading into the break. The bullpen has continued to regress, while the historic offense has cooled off tremendously and has struggled to drive in runners in scoring position. But it’s still one of the best starts in franchise history, and a dramatic leap over the last two years. The club is no doubt a legitimate contender in the American League, but the Astros won’t go away quietly. The Rangers will need to return to their early-season form if they want to secure their first division title since 2016.

Likely Trade Deadline strategy: Shopping for pitching, pitching and more pitching

Texas opened the Trade Deadline floodgates early when it traded for Kansas City reliever Aroldis Chapman on June 30, but the Rangers still need more help on the pitching staff. Texas has a pair of starting pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs in and , plus not far behind (3.29), but the rotation is still in need of depth behind them to propel a playoff push. An even bigger issue sits in the bullpen, where the Rangers’ relief corps has a 4.54 ERA, the sixth highest in MLB. Chapman was an important add, and will surely move into the closer role sooner rather than later, but even more additions are sure to come.

Key player: RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi has become the ace of Texas’ staff with Jacob deGrom out for the season, and he’s performed to that peak. The right-hander has posted a 2.83 ERA over 18 starts; he has tossed two complete games, one of which was a shutout. Eovaldi has 109 strikeouts to just 31 walks as he carried the pitching staff with 117 2/3 innings in the first half. 

Prospect to watch: RHP Owen White (No. 2)

White made his MLB debut straight from Double-A out of the ‘pen on June 13 with the Rangers in need of length for a bullpen game, but he has since been returned to Triple-A for the time being. Depending on what takes  place at the Deadline, White could be an important piece down the stretch, or even in a potential postseason run. The right-hander is the best starting pitcher in the Rangers' farm system, but if he’s to make an impact in the big leagues, it’ll likely be in long relief out of the bullpen.