The Texas Rangers Opening Day lineup is out, courtesy of the beat guys on Twitter, who are relaying what manager Jeff Banister says he will be sending out there tomorrow against the Houston Astros.
The lineup will be:
DeShields — CF
Gallo — 1B
Elvis -- SS
Beltre — 3B
Mazara -- RF
Choo — DH
Chirinos — C
Odor — 2B
Rua — LF
Cole Hamels will be squaring off against Justin Verlander, the Astros’ Opening Day starting pitcher.
A few thoughts on what I expect will be the Rangers’ regular lineup for the first month or so of the season:
While this isn’t exactly what I would go with if I were creating a lineup for, say, an OOTP game or something like that, this is pretty close, and I don’t have any complaints. You could argue that Mazara and Beltre should flip-flop, to break up the lefties at 5-6, but there’s a certain cachet that goes with hitting fourth and I get that you don’t want to drop Beltre below there.
Odor in the eighth spot makes sense from a lineup structure standpoint, given his struggles last season, but also from a “take the pressure off” standpoint. Odor needs to improve significantly from how he performed in 2018, and in particular, change his approach, and asking him to do that from the bottom of the order would seem to reduce the stress that’s potentially generated from sticking him in a spot that’s for “run producers.”
Joey Gallo in the second spot is something that Banister had indicated he was considering, so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. While the types that get hung up on batting average and strikeouts will complain that he’s not enough of a contact hitter to be batting there, analytics indicate your best hitter should hit second, and the Rangers’ best hitter in 2018 should be Gallo (or Adrian Beltre). Banister has also discussed that having Gallo, who works counts deep, sees a lot of breaking pitches and saw more pitches outside of the zone in 2018 than any other hitter, batting when Delino DeShields is up could give DeShields more opportunities to run, and could also result in Gallo seeing more fastballs. I like it.
Elvis Andrus is a legitimate #3 hitter, and that’s awesome.
Ryan Rua is hitting ninth, and will likely be a fixture in the lineup for a couple of months, per the beats. The Rangers have liked his defense, his baserunning, and his versatility for a while, and he has power and has shown flashes, but over the last few years he’s struggled to make enough contact to be a solid contributor. This appears to be the Rangers giving Rua one last chance to sink or swim while Willie Calhoun works on his glovework in AAA.
UPDATE — Here is the Houston lineup:
Springer — RF
Bregman — 3B
Altuve — 2B
Correa -- SS
Gonzalez — 1B
Reddick — LF
Gattis — DH
Marisnick -- CF
McCann -- C
Justin Verlander is on the mound for Houston.