Less than two weeks before the 2023 MLB trade deadline, one of the AL’s top contenders may have lost yet another starter from their injury-ravaged rotation. Texas Rangers righty Jon Gray was forced to leave his start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon after taking a 112-mph Yandy Diaz line drive off the lower part of his left leg:
Jon Gray got hit with a comebacker again. He's standing by the mound right now with the team trainer, Bruce Bochy and Mike Maddux. Looks like he's gonna try a few warm-up pitches here. pic.twitter.com/3c0rnon0Hx— kennedi landry (@kennlandry) July 19, 2023
Gray was checked out by the team’s training staff and threw a few warm-up tosses off the mound but was eventually forced to exit the game. He’d given up eight hits over 4.1 shutout innings before departing.
The team has yet to offer any sort of update on Gray’s status or how much — if any — time he might miss. But any extended absence would be a huge blow to the Rangers as they attempt to capture the AL West, one that could have serious ramifications as the trade deadline approaches. Texas already figured to be in the market for pitching, with Jacob deGrom out for the year after Tommy John surgery and Andrew Heaney and Martin Perez struggling. Gray, Nathan Eovaldi and Dane Dunning have been just about the only reliable arms in the team’s rotation, and even Gray had begun to stumble a bit, with a 6.75 ERA over his last five starts entering Wednesday.
Texas entered play on Wednesday at 57-39, the third-best record in the AL behind Tampa and the Baltimore Orioles and good for a 4.5-game lead over the rival Houston Astros in the AL West. With one of the deepest lineups in baseball, this is a team with real World Series aspirations; those aspirations would almost certainly require at least one more reliable starter, maybe even two, as we’ve seen how important pitching depth is once the postseason rolls around. The team has been linked to the likes of Jordan Montgomery, Shane Bieber and Lucas Giolito in recent days.