It’s no secret that in 2021 the Rangers starting pitching was bad, like really bad. Rangers starters tallied a total of just 33 wins, 25th out of the 30 teams, and had an ERA of 5.33 which is 3rd worst in the league. They also were not very consistent having just 3 pitchers make 20 or more starts last season. 2 out of those 3 will not be returning for the 2022 season (Jordan Lyles and Mike Foltynewicz). The good news for Texas is that you can only really go up from here and these are the guys that will look to do that in 2022. With a year of experience for the young starters and the new guys that Jon Daniels and Chris Young are set to bring in, the Rangers will support a new-look staff in 2022.
SP 1 – Clayton Kershaw – Starting off these predictions bold here I think after the lockout the Rangers will add yet another former Dodger to this roster, bringing in future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. It is seemingly a two-horse race at this point between the Rangers and the Dodgers. The Rangers have several factors working for them on this front, Kershaw is a DFW native and has good relationships with shortstop Corey Seager and manager Chris Woodward. Both Seager and Woodward have confirmed that they have had conversations with Kershaw about potentially making his home in Arlington. Kershaw is coming off of many injuries in recent years so you would have to monitor those but with Kershaw, you would instantly gain a number one starter with veteran experience to bolster the staff.
SP 2 – Dane Dunning – In 2021 Dane Dunning experienced his first full MLB season going 5-10 with a 4.51 ERA. Dunning is the only returning pitcher from last season who made at least 20 starts. Dunning was not great but he showed flashes of greatness. 15 out of his 25 starts were either wins or 1 run losses. I expect Dunning to take big steps of improvement in 2022. Baseball – Reference.com projects that in 2022 Dunning will be 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 126.0 innings. However, I believe that Dunning will be a little better than that. I think he could end up in the 8-10 win range with an ERA in the low 4’s.
SP 3 – Jon Gray – On November 28th, 2021 the Texas Rangers and RHP Jon Gray come to an agreement on a 4 year $56 million deal. Last season with the Rockies Gray went 8-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 29 starts. Gray also brings something that the Rangers desperately need, innings. Gray thew 149.0 innings in 2021, something the Rangers only got from one starter last season (Jordan Lyles, not returning in 2022). Gray will be going from the worst ballpark in the league for pitchers into Globe Life Field which tends to be neutral with a slight lean on the pitching side. A change in scenery might be just what the doctor ordered for Gray who hopes to break out with Texas.
SP 4 – Taylor Hearn – Hearn started the 2021 season as a member of the Rangers bullpen but opportunities opened up for him to start at the end of the year. Hearn made 11 starts going an even 4-4 in games where he factored into the decision. Overall Hearn had a 4.66 ERA last year but I don’t think that tells the whole story. In games, he started Hearn pitched well. We have always known that Hearn has big potential as a starter but last year was really the first year we saw it first hand. When Taylor gets the consistent opportunity to start this season I think it will make a huge difference. Watch out for Hearn to break out this season and be a key piece to the Rangers’ success.
SP 5 – Kolby Allard – Believe it or not Kolby Allard has the most experience of any Rangers returning starter. Allard made his debut in 2018 with Atlanta before being acquired by the Rangers in a trade for Chris Martin. Last season Allard bounced around from the bullpen to the rotation going 3-12 with a 5.41 ERA. Now that Allard has a full season of experience for Texas I think he could work. Baseball- reference.com has Allard’s 2022 projections at 5-10 with a 5.00 ERA. That is most certainly not great but something I think Texas will take. Let’s keep in mind he is the 5th starter, Texas does not expect him to go 7 plus each time out. If Allard can keep Texas in games I think he can be successful. He also showed some flashes last year that hopefully, he can build off of.
Overall the Rangers starters have a lot to improve on but I think they have the ability to do it. Other than Kershaw I did not use any other unsigned free agents however don’t be surprised if Texas gets on one of those guys. Some names I think you could watch out for are Michael Pineda and Danny Duffy. The only way to go is up for the staff and I think they will. Texas has starters with the ability to put together solid years and will look to make a major improvement in 2022.