Welcome back baseball! Thursday felt like a national holiday as meaningful baseball was being played throughout America. It made it extra sweet when the Texas Rangers decided to put up a quick 11 runs, bolstered by a nine run 4th inning.
The Texas Rangers offense started the 2023 season red-hot.
The Rangers were tasked with starting off the season against the NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. They seized the moment to establish their offense, putting up 30 runs in the first three games of the season, and against a World Series-caliber rotation and bullpen.
Aaron Nola got the ball in game one and was knocked around, leaving the game after 3.2 IP with 5 ER. Zack Wheeler took the ball in game two with much of the same results: 4 ER over the course of 4.1 IP. He was also knocked around for 7 balls that Statcast considers “Hard Hit” (95 MPH+).
Finally, the Texas Rangers would able to feast on Bailey Falter who had… 5.1 IP and 2 ER? Based upon early season trends one would expect yet another offensive outpouring, and in terms of runs that did not happen.
But if you were to dig deeper, you’d see that the Rangers were able to get to him too. Falter allowed four balls to be hit more than 100 MPH, two by Corey Seager and from Robbie Grossman. Along with that Falter had a 11% Barrel% and a HH% of 44%. Overall, the bats are working, and for a team who was middle-of-the-pack in terms of Barrel% (14th) and SLG (13th), this was a fantastic start.
But what’s wrong with Jacob deGrom?
Starting with the positive, Jacob deGrom hit 100 MPH twice. Same amount of times the Rangers ENTIRE staff did in 2022. He also posted a FIP of 3.17 along with an xFIP of 1.70 meaning that he did not deserve what looked to be an overall beating on his Opening Day start. Some indications of that beyond trusting his FIP is an unrealistic .556 BABIP to go along with a triple that was hit 69 MPH with an xBA of .140 and a double down the line hit 61.4 MPH. A generous bounce on the lip sticking out in foul ground and blooper was a key difference in an success and overall doom and gloom outing for deGrom.
Beyond the bloopers, he still gave up a home run and legit triple as well. Looking at the numbers, compared to his usual stats, he missed more in the zone he is used to. His Z-Contact% and Contact% increased at least 10% and his SwStr% decreased by 9%. It’s worth noting his average velocities were also down around .7-.8 MPH, something worth monitoring. deGrom’s effectiveness lies more in his ability to paint corners than his pitches by the opposition but I’m not too concerned with this dip when you consider he still touched 100 twice.
This goes without saying but please don’t panic after one bad outing. He is a perennial Cy Young candidate at the end of the day.
He had this to say on MLB.com:
"“There’s times where they pick you up and that’s huge. There’s time for you to go out there and you’re putting up zeros and you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, but then, like today, I wasn’t able to do that and they did a good job of picking me up.”"
The Texas Rangers are 3-0 for the first time since 2011, and did it against a legitimate contender. They are one of three teams in the MLB that remains undefeated and looked like a complete team to start off the new season.
The Texas Rangers were so active this winter they fundamentally remade their team, full of free agents and prospects, they promise an entertaining season
Beyond deGrom, Eovaldi and Perez shoved when they needed to and look like great signings in early stages of the year. This early series should get Rangers fans excited.