A 2019 Texas Rangers Opening Day roster prediction is an exercise in futility at this point, because there will be injuries, more minor league signings, unexpected performances, and the like that will occur between now and then. But hey, its a kind of fun exercise in futility, so I’m going to try doing it anyway.
Here’s my wild-ass, for entertainment purposes only, no betting please, predictions for the Opening Day roster for the Rangers:
Starting Pitchers (4) — Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Edinson Volquez
Yes, just four starting pitchers to start the season. One starting pitcher always tweaks something early in camp, falls a little behind, and starts the season on the
disabled injured list, with an eye towards being activated after the first week of the season. I’m picking Drew Smyly as the guy who gets shut down for a few days in late February, resulting in him starting the year on the 10 day injured list. The Rangers have seven games in seven days to start the season, and then two off days in four days, so I’m predicting they go with these four to start the season, then an opener against the Angels for the fifth game of the year, then use the off days to arrange the rotation so Smyly can be activated to start at home against the Angels on Monday, April 15.
Relief Pitchers (9) — Jose Leclerc, Jesse Chavez, Shawn Kelley, Chris Martin, Jeffrey Springs, Connor Sadzeck, Jordan Romano, Miguel del Pozo, Random Waiver Claim
As with the starting pitchers, I’m going to assume that some relief pitcher will strain an oblique or sprain an ankle doing PFP or something this spring, and start the year on the injured list. Zach McAllister was who my RNG came up with, so he joins Smyly on the 10 day injured list to start the year, giving the Rangers the chance to start the year with a couple of extra pitchers who might not otherwise make the cut. Leclerc, Chavez, Kelley, and Martin are givens, if they are healthy. Springs is here because the Rangers need a lefty, and they might want to use him as an opener. Sadzeck is out of options and Romano is a Rule 5 pick, so I’m saying the Rangers will at least start the season with them in the pen to give themselves some additional time to make decisions on them. At least one NRI usually seems to stick, and so I’m picking Miguel del Pozo, a lefthanded reliever who missed all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, and who was signed as a minor league free agent this offseason. I’m going to say he shows enough flashes this spring to get a look as the second lefty out of the pen, while C.D. Pelham, Brady Feigl and Kyle Bird work on things in the minors.
And finally, there’s Random Waiver Claim. I have no idea who this will be, but it seems like the Rangers always end up breaking camp with some guy in the bullpen — often a Rule 5 guy — they claim at the end of spring training. I don’t know who this year’s Dustin Nippert, Seth Rosin, Logan Verrett or Sam Freeman is going to be, but I’m holding a spot for the Mystery Pitcher on the roster.
Catchers (2) — Jeff Mathis, Isiah Kiner-Falefa
I could see the Rangers going with three catchers at points this season, but not with just a three man bench, which I have Texas starting the year with in this scenario.
Infielders (5) — Ronald Guzman, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubel Cabrera, Matt Davidson
I was looking for a way to not include Davidson here, just because Davidson seems like the easy pick, but with Cabrera and IKF each able to handle the middle infield spots, I think Davidson has a pretty clear path to being a righthanded bench bat/mopup reliever at this point. If not Davidson, I’ll say its another random utility infielder claimed on waivers around the time the team is leaving Surprise.
Outfielders (5) — Joey Gallo, Delino DeShields, Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun, Carlos Tocci
So, no Shin-Soo Choo here. Looking into the crystal ball, he’s 36 and has a history of injury issues, including a balky back. I’m going to say Choo is slowed by back issues this spring, and the team decides to take it slow with him, putting him on the 10 day injured list to start the year, with Willie Calhoun DHing and Tocci hanging around to give the team a backup outfielder for the time being. Then if Willie rakes, the Rangers will have a tough decision to make when it comes time to activate Choo...