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Oakland A’s Series Preview #4: Rangers bring battle of starting rotations

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Featuring the first MLB start of Jesus Luzardo

Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are alone in first place atop the AL West, with a 6-4 record. They got there after winning three of four games against the Seattle Mariners last weekend, in their first road trip of the 2020 season. Now they’re back home, and looking to build on their early success against the Texas Rangers.

Texas Rangers

  • 2019 record: 78-84
  • 2020 record: 3-5

The Rangers had half a good season in 2019, but came back to earth in the second half. They return an excellent starting rotation, led by two pitchers who earned Cy Young votes last year in Lance Lynn and Mike Minor plus a few new buy-low additions. Unfortunately, the best of those newcomers is already out of action, as two-time Cy winner Corey Kluber is on the injured list with a shoulder issue.

Texas’ lineup is also missing a couple regular names. Super-sub Danny Santana is on the IL with a forearm strain, and second baseman Rougned Odor is day-to-day for his oblique and at least won’t start in the opening game Tuesday.

The Rangers are tough to predict this year. They’re not a front-line contender, but they have enough talent to make a little noise if enough things on their roster go perfectly. The A’s should be the better team but they can’t take Texas lightly, and anytime you’re going against All-Star-caliber starting pitching there’s always the chance of getting shut down.

Projected lineup

This is specifically their lineup vs. LHP, which they’ll see two of in this three-game series.

  • SS Elvis Andrus (R)
  • 2B Nick Solak (R)
  • RF Joey Gallo (L)
  • 1B Todd Frazier (R)
  • C Robinson Chirinos (R)
  • CF Scott Heineman (R)
  • 3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa (R)
  • LF Adolis Garcia (R)
  • DH Rob Refsnyder (R)

Against a righty (like Mike Fiers on Thu.), lefty hitters LF Shin-Soo Choo and DH Willie Calhoun would normally be in there, not to mention 2B Rougned Odor if he’s healthy. Solak has shifted from the outfield to the keystone for Odor, while Heineman has taken over CF for the injured Danny Santana.

Only Gallo is off to a hot start at the plate so far, though Refsnyder has been productive in a few at-bats. Look out for Chirinos, who is one of those opposing role players who always seems to homer against the A’s.

Starting pitchers

These are the three expected starters:

  • Fri: Lance Lynn (R) vs. Jesus Luzardo (6:10 p.m.)
  • Sat: Kyle Gibson (R) vs. Sean Manaea (6:10 p.m.)
  • Sun: Mike Minor (L) vs. Mike Fiers (12:40 p.m.)

That’s two starters who pitched like aces last summer, and Lynn in particular has kept right on rolling this year. Gibson threw five scoreless innings in his first appearance of 2020.

The real news in this pitching slate is on the A’s side, as top prospect Jesus Luzardo will make his first career MLB start in the opening game.

Bench/Bullpen

Here’s the Rangers’ full 30-man roster:

Texas Rangers 30-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Lance Lynn (R)
Mike Minor (L)
Kyle Gibson (R)
Jordan Lyles (R)
Kolby Allard (L)

Relievers

Jose Leclerc (R)
Jesse Chavez (R)
Luke Farrell (R)
Ian Gibaut (R)
Nick Goody (R)
Jimmy Herget (R)
Jonathan Hernandez (R)
Joe Palumbo (L)
Edinson Volquez (R)
Catchers

Robinson Chirinos (R)
Jeff Mathis (R)
Jose Trevino (R)

Infielders

Ronald Guzman (R)
Rougned Odor (L)
Elvis Andrus (R)
Todd Frazier (R)
Greg Bird (L)
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (R)
Anderson Tejeda (S)

Outfielders

Willie Calhoun (L)
Shin-Soo Choo (L)
Joey Gallo (L)
Scott Heineman (R)
Rob Refsnyder (R)
Nick Solak (R)

10-day IL: RHP Corey Kluber (shoulder), RHP Rafael Montero (elbow), LHP Joely Rodriguez (lat), OF Danny Santana (elbow),

45-day IL: LHP Brock Burke (shoulder), RHP Jose Declerc (back)