On Monday, the Texas Rangers take to the road to face the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates. Texas will look for Dane Dunning (4-0, 1.69 ERA) to keep rolling, while Pittsburgh turns to right-hander Luis Ortiz (0-2, 5.63 ERA).
The Rangers weren’t projected to be much of a factor in the competitive AL West but come into Monday sitting atop the division. A big reason for Texas’ early success has been starting pitching. The Rangers rank top 10 in runs allowed per nine innings, as well as opponent’s batting average and on-base percentage.
Dunning has been sensational since being inserted into the starting rotation. In his last three outings, Dunning has allowed just three runs in 17 innings of work, while striking out 12 and walking two.
Neither of Ortiz’s two starts this season has gone very well. The young right-hander has given up 14 hits and nine runs over seven innings, with Pittsburgh being outscored 14-1.
Dunning’s early season success should continue against a Pirates lineup that entered Sunday hitting just .230 against right-handers, compared to .271 versus lefties. Ortiz will need to be a lot better facing a Rangers offense that went into Sunday ranked first in runs, second in average, and third in on-base percentage.
The Rangers’ biggest weakness this season has been a bullpen that sports the fifth-worst ERA in baseball. For that reason, back Texas to jump on Ortiz early and win the first five innings.
The play: Rangers first 5 innings -155.
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