Texas earned a Wild Card spot after finishing the regular season with a 90-72 record. The team was poised to capture the AL West title, but squandered it by losing four of its last six ballgames. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay finished with a 99-63 record and had to settle for a Wild Card spot after losing a tight race with the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East crown.
Let’s take a look at the starting pitchers for this best-of-5 series.
Rangers vs. Rays starting pitchers
Game 1: Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.20 ERA)
Game 2: TBD (possibly Nathan Eovaldi: 12-5, 3.63 ERA)
Game 3: TBD (possibly Dane Dunning or Andrew Heaney)
Texas will enter the postseason missing three of its prized arms as Jacob deGrom has been long on the shelf after undergoing Tommy John surgery back in June. The recently acquired Max Scherzer also went down with a shoulder injury in September ,and while manager Bruce Bochy hasn’t totally ruled him out for the postseason, it is highly unlikely he’ll play in this series. Righty Jon Gray was also placed on IL right before the end of the regular season due to forearm tightness and he will miss this series as well.
Jordan Montgomery will step on the hill as the Game 1 starter and had a pretty strong regular season despite his win/loss record. Monty was dominant in the back-end of September to close the campaign, yielding just two earned runs through his final four starts combined. He did not face the Rays this season.
While not yet official, the team will most likely turn to Nathan Eovaldi for Game 2 on Wednesday. The 33-year-old veteran collected 12 wins throughout the campaign, notching just his third 10+-win season of his career. Two of those victories came against the Rays, as he yielded just four earned runs through 12.1 innings of work against them.
If necessary, Thursday’s Game 3 starter will most likely come down to either Dane Dunning or Andrew Heaney. Dunning posted a 12-7 record with a 3.70 ERA this season and had a quality start against the Rays on July 17. Heaney went 10-6 with a 4.15 ERA this year and yielded three earned runs in a loss to the Rays on June 9.
Game 1: Tyler Glasnow (10-7, 3.53 ERA)
Game 2: Zach Eflin (16-8, 3.50 ERA)
Game 3: TBD (possibly Aaron Civale: 7-5, 3.46 ERA)
Similar to the Rangers, Tampa Bay will be missing its ace for the postseason with Shane McClanahan out until at least 2025 after having Tommy John surgery in August.
The team will turn to Tyler Glasnow in Game 1, who had a mostly solid year in his return from Tommy John surgery. One of his best starts of the season came against this Rangers team on June 9, where he the only hit that he yielded was a solo home run.
Zach Eflin will go on the mound in Game 2 and was excellent in his first season with the organization. The Rays altered their starting pitching order last week to make sure the 29-year-old righty had a week’s worth of rest before stepping on the hill for the postseason. He did not face the Rangers during the regular season.
While it has yet to be announced, it is highly likely that Aaron Civale will get the start in a decisive Game 3 on Thursday should the series reach that point. The righty was a solid arm for the team after being acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline. One of his final starts with the Guardians came against this Rangers team on July 14, going five innings and yielding two earned runs off five hits and a walk.