Wednesday Newsletter time: Opening Day start goes to Jon Gray. Who will pitch Texas Rangers' home opener?
The front-runners for the assignment could be Dane Dunning and Taylor Hearn, the team's two best returning starters from last season.
Chris Woodward could have made the announcement he made Tuesday on Dec. 1.
Right-hander Jon Gray will be the Texas Rangers’ starter on Opening Day, Woodward said.
Gray signed a four-year, $56 million contract Dec. 1, just beating the start of the MLB lockout, and at that point was the clear favorite for the season opener.
At the time it was scheduled for Thursday. That’s to the lockout stretching into this month, the lid-lifter is April 8 at Toronto.
“We knew when we signed him he was going to be our No. 1,” Woodward said. “He’s had a ton of success in the big leagues, but I think there’s another level to him and he believes that. He can’t wait to get to that level.”
With that settled, the two remaining questions regarding the Rangers’ rotation are:
Who’s going to be the fifth starter? We’ll look at that below.
Who’s going to start the home opener April 11 against Colorado? We’ll look at that now.
The smart money is on right-hander Dane Dunning or left-hander Taylor Hearn. They were the Rangers’ two best starters last season and each is deserving of the home-opener honor.
This is strictly a guess, but I think it will be Hearn. He’s the hometown kid and won’t have to face all those Blue Jays right-handed bats at Rogers Centre on either April 9 or April 10.
About that fifth starter …
The race to fill out the rotation appears to be a three-pitcher races between A.J. Alexy, Kolby Allard and Spencer Howard, who turned in another solid performance Tuesday in a 7-1 loss to Cincinnati.
The right-hander allowed one run in three innings as an encore to two perfect innings in his Cactus League debut. Alexy has tossed five scoreless innings on just one-hit, and Allard tossed two scoreless in his spring debut.
Howard scattered five hits, saying he did a good job with damage control. The Rangers haven’t given him any indication of what his role will be to start the season or if he will make the Opening Day roster.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Howard said. ”I’m just throwing balls when they tell me to.”
Glenn Otto hasn’t been quite as good as fellow right-handers Alexy and Howard or the left-handed Allard. Don’t forget about veteran lefty Matt Moore, who has caught the Rangers’ attention.
Thursday in Frisco
If you’re craving some baseball and a good time, head to Riders Field on Thursday night as Double A Frisco kicks off the season with Riderspalooza.
Here are the three biggest details, in the Newsletter’s opinion:
It runs from 6-8:30 p.m.
Admission is free.
Prices on beer and wine are half-off.
That’s not all, of course. The Lazy River will be open, fans can play catch in the outfield, and there will be a petting zoo, balloon artists and face painters for the kids.
The Ray Johnston Band sill provide live tunes, and the night ends with a fireworks show.
Did we mention beer and wine half-off?
Frisco opens the season April 8. Anyone holding a canceled ticket for a spring-training game or MLB game can exchange it for a ticket to opening weekend.
Look at this Mr. Smarty Pants. Enjoy. See you Thursday.