All eyes will be on the starting pitchers Wednesday as the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles close out a three-game series in Arlington, Texas
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom is scheduled to make his second start for the Rangers, while Orioles top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is reportedly en route to Texas to make his major league debut
However, Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde told reporters after Tuesday's game that he had not named a starter for the Wednesday series finale.
That adds a layer of drama, although multiple outlets stated that Rodriguez is the anticipated starter.
Regardless of who starts, the Orioles will be going for a sweep and their ninth straight victory over the Rangers dating back to last July. Texas, meanwhile, is hoping to find its way back to the winning side behind its ace
deGrom (0-0, 12.27 ERA), who joined the Rangers on a five-year, $185 million contract in the offseason, had a rough debut against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday. He allowed five runs and a career-high six extra-base hits over just 3 2/3 innings
"Obviously, I'm not thrilled with how I threw the ball," deGrom said afterward. "Didn't make pitches when I needed to, but the most important thing is we got the win."
Even though the Rangers rallied for a victory in the contest, it wasn't the type of outing expected by deGrom. Texas hopes the second time around is better for 34-year-old veteran, who is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in two career starts against Baltimore
The Rangers' offense has struggled to get much going the first two games against the Orioles. Texas had just one hit and was shut out in the opener, then scored just twice on Tuesday, on solo home runs by Adolis Garcia and Nathaniel Lowe
Rangers manager Bruce Bochy credited the Orioles' pitching staff, but he said he was encouraged by the at-bats on Tuesday
"I do think we swung the bats better, hit some balls hard tonight," Bochy said. "It's encouraging."
For Baltimore, it'll be a highly anticipated day if Rodriguez is on the big stage. He struggled at the end of spring training, allowing 14 runs (11 earned) over 10 2/3 innings in his final three outings.
In his first start of the season Friday at Triple-A Norfolk, Rodriguez allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts over four innings.
Rodriguez, 23, possesses undeniable talent, as he is ranked as the No. 7 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline. He would be making his debut in his home state as he was born in Houston and attended high school in Nacogdoches.
Time will tell, though, who Hyde ultimately sends to the mound.
The Orioles are off to a strong start at the plate, with 11 home runs through five games. Shortstop Jorge Mateo has homered in back-to-back games for the first time in his career
On the health front, the Rangers aren't expected to place outfielder Josh H. Smith on the injured list. Smith was hit in the face with an 89 mph pitch on Monday and required six stitches, but he returned to the ballpark on Tuesday and is considered day-to-day
For Baltimore, starter Kyle Bradish (right foot contusion) left his start Monday in the second inning after taking a 104 mph liner off his foot. X-rays were negative, but Hyde said the right-hander might land on the IL.
"It's possible just because it's the foot he drives off with," Hyde said on Tuesday. "It's pretty tender today."
--Field Level Media