2023 AL Wild Card Preview: Rangers vs. Rays

Rangers Rays

Both the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays spent much of their seasons in first place in their respective divisions. However, neither managed to hold on to first by year’s end, and now will face one another in what might be a wild AL Wild Card matchup. Here’s our preview of the series between the Rangers and Rays.

Related: 2023 NL Wild Card Preview: Diamondbacks vs. Brewers

Scheduled Starters and Start Times

All games will air at 3:08 PM ET on ABC. However, that could change depending on the other Wild Card series.

A Look at the Offenses

Runs Scored881860
Home Runs233230
Hard Hit%41.6%40.8%

Our preview of the Wild Card round between the Rangers and Rays starts with the bats. This matchup will feature two of the best offenses in all of the MLB. Both the Rangers and Rays finished in the top five in both total runs scored and team OPS.

The Rangers can mash, thanks to a deep lineup that includes Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, Josh Jung, and former Rays farmhand Nathaniel Lowe. Semien and Seager ranked in the top ten of the league in wRC+, while Adolis Garcia ranked 21st.

There’s a ton of power in the Rangers lineup, but the same can be said for the Rays. Tampa’s lineup includes outfielder Randy Arozarena, AL batting champ Yandy Diaz, and one of the league’s best stories this season in Isaac Paredes. The 24-year-old Paredes hit a career-high 31 home runs this season and can do damage against lefties, helpful given that the Rays will face a left-hander in Game 1.

A Look at the Pitching

Starters’ ERA3.963.92
Relievers’ ERA4.773.83
Opponents’ AVG.245.231

The Rays’ pitching staff ranked among the league’s best in a number of categories this season, thanks in large part to a stout bullpen and a very good rotation.

Now, the Rays rotation does look very different than it did at the beginning of the season thanks to season-ending injuries to Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs, and Shane McClanahan. However, Tampa does have Tyler Glasnow, who did have himself a strong ending to the 2023 season. Glasnow went 8-4 with a 3.22 ERA and 98 strikeouts over 78.1 IP.

Another pitcher who had a strong second half was Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery came over the Rangers at the Trade Deadline and did a phenomenal job in Texas. Between the Cardinals and Rangers, Montgomery’s 3.15 ERA after the All-Star break ranked in the top 20 of the league (min. 50 IP). Without Max Scherzer or Jon Gray, the latter of whom owned a 5.32 ERA in the second half and is currently on the IL, the Rangers will need both Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi to produce.

However, one big question that Texas will need to answer is whether their bullpen is up to the task. Left-handers Will Smith and Aroldis Chapman both have plenty of experience but did have their ups and downs in the 2023 campaign.

Our Predictions

This series could go in a number of different ways. Both teams have high-scoring offenses, but the question will come down to which team will neutralize the other on the mound.

We’ll actually go with the Rangers in the Wild Card round. Tyler Glasnow and Zach Eflin have been good but we think the Rangers can get to those starters.

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