Texas Rangers rookies Chi Chi Gonzalez and Joey Gallo represent the Rangers future, but they are making an immediate impact. Gonzalez has quietly dominated opposing lineups, while Gallo’s power has been noticed. They could save what many thought would be a disappointing season.
Many fans wrote off the season after Yu Darvish suffered an UCL injury that ultimately required Tommy John surgery. The question on many fans’ minds was a reasonable one: How could the Rangers win without their best pitcher?
Gonzalez, the Rangers’ 2013 first-round draft pick out of Oral Roberts, has stepped up into that role, though his style is different than Darvish’s. Rather than pile up strikeouts, Gonzalez pitches to contact, a reason why his ERA has remained historically low during his first four games. He’s not flashy, but he gets the job done with minimal pitches, allowing him to pitch deep into games and give the bullpen some rest.
Gonzalez nearly pitched his second complete game in his young career, and is gaining manager Jeff Banister’s confidence.
“My confidence in him is building in every outing, its high confidence. You watch the composure, you watch the type of pitches, you watch him attack the strike zone and get the early contact outs. He’s in the control of the strike zone, he’s in control of the at-bat,” said Bannister.
Gonzalez’s ability to pitch deep into games is even more important considering the bullpen’s struggles. Gonzalez has a 0.90 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with a 2-1 record through his first 4 career starts, however Gonzalez’s start has been slightly overshadowed by fellow rookie Joey Gallo.
Even after an impressive debut, Gallo has managed to improve and adjust to MLB. His one weakness is his strikeouts, but he now has a better feel for the strike zone. MLB pitchers are taking notice of his power, and aren’t giving him great pitches to hit. In Tuesday’s contest against the Dodgers, Gallo watched three straight breaking balls to draw a bases loaded walk. According to Jon Daniels Gallo’s MLB call-up was supposed to be temporary. But with his performance, coupled with an uncertain roster, means Gallo might be here to stay.
“We’ll see, Hamilton’s coming back quickly and Beltre is almost back. It’s not up to me, but hopefully I can play my way into it,” Gallo said. Gallo played his first game in the outfield during the first game against the Dodgers. He said the sun caused some issues fielding fly balls, but Gallo, a former pitcher, has the arm for an outfielder.
“I love throwing from out there, you get to let it go. I was hoping I would get a throw, but I didn’t,” said Gallo.
The Rangers return next Tuesday to square off against division rival Oakland.