Rangers Head Into Second Series of 2024 Against Familiar Opponent

Rangers look to keep their hot start to season going win they face their former wild-card opponents the Tampa Bay Rays in a three game series this week.

Wild Card Series - Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Two
Wild Card Series - Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Two / Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

After winning their first series of the year against the Cubs, the Rangers are looking to keep their success going when they face the Rays, their wild-card opponent from last fall's postseason. It will be a three-game series at Tropicana Field and the first time the Rangers go on the road this season.

Throughout last season, the Rangers and the Rays were the two heavyweights of the AL, with both teams leaps and bounds above other teams on the offensive side of things. Both the Rangers and the Rays were neck and neck in several offensive categories, even though the Rangers got the edge in most categories, including total runs scored and total hits.

Both teams finished their season-opening series on Sunday and performed well overall. The Rangers won their series against Chicago, only dropping one game to the Cubs while winning the other two.

The Rays faced off against their division rivals, the Blue Jays, in a four-game series and ended up tying their series with both teams winning two games apiece. It looked like both teams' offenses haven't missed a beat since last season, as they were both able to outperform their opponent offensively in several games of their respective series.   

Starting on Monday evening, the two high-octane offenses of the American League will be facing off against each other. Both clubs are looking to keep their high-powered offenses rolling into the new season, which puts the pressure on each starting rotation.

The Rangers plan to use the top of their rotation to face the Rays this week, with Dane Dunning to open the series and then Andrew Heaney in the second game, and ace Nathan Eovaldi to start the possible rubber match game of the series.

Heaney and Dunning will be making their season debuts, while Eovaldi will be making his second start of the season and search for his first win after getting a no-decision on Opening Day. Heaney, Eovaldi, and Dunning were all significant contributors to the Rangers' success last season, and we are hoping their success can transfer over to this year.

Similar to the Rangers, the Rays will be using the top of their order when going into the series. The three scheduled starters for the Rays will be Ryan Pepiot in game one, Zach Eflin in game two, and Aaron Civale in game three to close out the series. This will be the newly acquired Pepiot's debut game with the Rays, while it will be Civale and Eflin's second game of the season.

Civale is coming off of a dominant performance against the Blue Jays, only giving up one run through six innings. Elfin, who was the Rays Opening Day starting, is coming off a less than desirable start where he gave up six runs through six innings of work.

Like the Rangers, the Rays are somewhat limited in the rotation this year, especially after trading their former ace Tyler Glasnow to the Dodgers this past offseason. The absence of Glasnow will force pitchers like Civale and Eflin to step up, especially if the Rays want to remain contenders throughout the season.

Overall, fans should be in store for an exciting early-season series between these two offensive juggernauts. The Rangers' defeat of the Rays in the wild-card round last fall could create a little more tension throughout the series, which could make for some exciting baseball.

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