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2021 Texas Rangers: Home Opener Series Preview

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The 2021 Texas Rangers are off to a so-so start, but they’ll have the chance to gain momentum against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday in front of a full-capacity home crowd at Globe Life Field. 

More than anything, they’ll need to work out the glitches in their bullpen. It’s early; however, Rangers relievers have contributed an MLB-worst 14.34 ERA and 2.53 WHIP. The injury bug has left its mark on the Texas pen, but that doesn’t excuse the ghastly on-field results from their healthy pitchers. 

2021 Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays Preview

Game One (Home Opener): Monday, April 5th at 3:05 PM CDT

Matchup: RHP Mike Foltynewicz vs. LHP Steven Matz

Veteran Mike Foltynewicz will make his Texas Rangers debut at the center of Globe Life Field’s largest audience to date. He’ll oppose Steven Matz, who is striving for a turnaround season with his new team as well.

The Blue Jays’ offense is powerful from top to bottom, so Foltynewicz must command the strike zone and limit free passes to prevent crooked scoring outputs. Given Matz’s customary home run vulnerabilities, Rangers hitters may elate the crowd with a round-tripper or two.

Game Two: Tuesday, April 6th at 7:05 PM CDT

Matchup: RHP Dane Dunning vs. RHP Tanner Roark

2021 Texas Rangers fans will get their first look at number-three prospect Dane Dunning, who headlined the return package for Lance Lynn this offseason. At 6’4”, 225 pounds, Dunning creates impressive tilt on his fastball and sports an outstanding breaking ball. He should be a treat to watch throughout the season. 

Like Matz, Tanner Roark is prone to the long ball. The well-traveled right-hander allowed 2.6 home runs per nine innings in 2020, and 2.3 in 2019. Strangely, he fared far worse against righties than lefties a season ago. The Rangers should send a well-balanced lineup to the plate Tuesday night to hopefully conquer Roark.

Game Three: Wednesday, April 7th at 1:05 PM CDT

Matchup: RHP Kyle Gibson vs. LHP Hyun Jin Ryu

The Rangers offense best get its licks in on Monday and Tuesday because the ever-stringent Hyun Jin Ryu is slotted to take the mound for Toronto on Wednesday. Ryu has compiled consecutive sub-3.00 ERA seasons. He finished runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2019.

Kyle Gibson seeks redemption after lasting just one-third of an inning on Opening Day against the Kansas City Royals. He allowed four hits, three walks, and five earned runs. The 2021 Texas Rangers need the 33-year-old to hold his own from the bump this year, as he’s a key piece in their precarious starting rotation.

Players to Watch

David Dahl, Joey Gallo, and Nate Lowe are sizzling atop the Texas lineup. The trio of lefties accounted for 14 of the club’s 21 runs scored against the Royals. Gallo has just three empty at-bats in three games, off to a five-for-ten start while drawing five walks. He turned around a Mike Minor fastball in Saturday’s game, launching it 450 feet to straightaway center.

Nate Lowe saw Gallo’s 450-foot dinger and raised it 15 feet on Sunday. He sent a ball to the Kauffman Stadium pond in right-center, 465 feet from home plate, for a three-run homer. Overall, Lowe is five-for-fourteen with a major-league-leading nine RBIs.

Not to be outdone, Dahl is five-for-thirteen with two doubles and five runs scored. He recorded a three-hit game in his Rangers debut on Thursday.

For Toronto, feast your eyes on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Shedding 42 pounds this offseason, the recent number-one prospect in MLB looks to own the power charts in 2021. He went three-for-nine with one home run in the Blue Jays’ opening series vs. the New York Yankees. 

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Travis Koch is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and a lifelong baseball fan. He's covered MLB for Overtime Heroics since January of 2021.