We’re finally starting the 2021 season. And I say finally because while it hasn’t been a longer wait than normal, and definitely not as long of a wait as last season, it kinda feels like it has. Maybe it’s because time seems slower in a pandemic? To me at least, it feels like Spring Training started ages ago and I’m ready for baseball games that count! (Even if they won’t really matter until mid-May.)
While the Rangers are expected to be last in the division (ESPN actually predicts a not so terrible record for the Rangers whereas Keith Law for The Atheltic has a more dismal outlook,) I believe they have enough young talent to at least hold our interest for most of this season. Including gold glove winners Joey Gallo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Texas opens the season at the Kansas City Royals, a series of all afternoon games. They’ll start today at 3:10 p.m. CDT, have Friday off and then resume Saturday and Sunday with 1:10 p.m. CDT games. They won’t have their first night game until their second home game on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Kyle Gibson will start the season for the Rangers, pitching against the team he debuted with in 2013. With a cutter added to his repertoire he’s expected to improve his ability to keep hitters off-balance paired with his sinker. With the league split up last season into East, Central, and West divisions, these two teams haven’t seen each other in two years. In 2019 Gibson made four starts in six games against the Royals when he was with the Minnesota Twins. He posted a 2-0 record with a 4.03 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP.
Gibson made 12 starts last season and ended 2020 with a 5.35 ERA and 1.53 WHIP.
Texas will face Brad Keller who is getting the Opening Day start after posting a 2.47 ERA in nine starts last season. This will be his fourth season in the big leagues, he’s only faced the Rangers twice in his career, a game a piece in 2018 and 2019, just the one start in 2019. He’s 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in nine innings against the Rangers.
Kansas City doesn’t yet have a starter listed for games two and three (as of writing this Wednesday afternoon.) Kohei Arihara will make his MLB debut for the Rangers on Saturday. For the last six years he has played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. He had a career 3.74 ERA in Japan.
Closing out the series on Sunday afternoon Jordan Lyles will get the start. After an awful season last year, Lyles will start this year in a tandem start position that will, hopefully, turn into a normal starting position. In 2020, Lyles went 1-6 in nine starts and 57.2 innings with a 7.02 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. He’s made just three starts in his career against Kansas City, his last being in 2013 when he was with the Houston Astros. He went 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings pitched and recorded a 0.85 WHIP. He is expected to be followed by either Wes Benjamin or Taylor Hearn.