Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: How Gallardo could be pitching himself into Rangers' plans for 2019

Could this scene happen again in 2019? Perhaps, if Yovani Gallardo continues to be effective the rest of this season.
Could this scene happen again in 2019? Perhaps, if Yovani Gallardo continues to be effective the rest of this season. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Take a look at the Chicago White Sox, who did next to nothing right and plenty wrong Friday night at Globe Life Park.

This is what a full-blown rebuild looks like and what the final two months of the season could look like if the Texas Rangers unload their tradable assets at the July 31 deadline.

Maybe not that bad, but what about a 2019 without Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman and possibly Keone Kela? Oh, and Elvis Andrus?

Better enjoy the next month.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from an 11-3 victory.

1. The Rangers, as has been stated many times, are in a development mode but don't have much to develop at the upper levels of the minor leagues. They are going to need starting pitchers next season.

At the same time, right-hander Yovani Gallardo came up from Triple A nearly two weeks ago and said that he wants to prove that he can still pitch in the major leagues.

After his third start Friday, albeit against the White Sox, he is on the road to proving it and maybe keeping himself on the Rangers' radar for 2019.

Seriously.

Consider:

The Rangers have only two starters under contract for next season, Mike Minor and pre-arbitration Austin Bibens-Dirks. They hold club options on Hamels, Martin Perez, Doug Fister and Matt Moore. Bartolo Colon and Gallardo can be free agents.

Hamels could be traded before the Rangers have to make that decision, and if he isn't, his $6 million buyout might be more attractive than a $20 million contract for 2019. Perez's option is for $7.5 million with a $750,000 buyout, and Fister's option is for $4.5 million or a $500,000 buyout.

Barring something spectacularly unforeseen, Moore will be given a $750,000 buyout instead of the Rangers exercising a $10 million option.

Gallardo, whose career is winding down, would probably pitch on a cheapish contract, especially if he gets to pitch at home again.

Next year is a long way off. The Rangers could decide to part ways with him once Perez, who makes his second rehab start Saturday, returns. Bibens-Dirkx can be optioned, and that would be the more prudent move for the starter-thin Rangers.

Gallardo, to his credit, said he is taking things start by start, a wise mind-set for someone in his position. But it's not as unenviable as it was two weeks ago when he faced potentially exercising the out on his minor-league contract.

And he's been serviceable. The Rangers are 3-0 in his starts, and the offense seems to come alive when he pitches. His first outing against the Colorado Rockies, who can score away from Coors Field, wasn't good, but he has improved.

Curiously, he cited something that was forced upon him at Round Rock in lending an assist, and it could be coming to MLB soon. ...

2. ... Yes, Commissioner Rob Manfred wants the pitch clock that has been used the past few seasons in the minors, and Gallardo is a prime example of the desired effect it can half.

Gallardo hasn't always been the fastest worker during his career. That's the nicest way to put it.

But since having to work with a pitch clock, he has discovered that a quicker tempo is helping him on the mound.

Opposing hitters can't get too comfortable. Defenders don't fall asleep. His team's hot bats don't go cold.

"The two months that I spent down in Round Rock, I think it helped," Gallardo said. "Coming up here, I'm just trying to keep it the same. Just grab it and go. It isn't allowing myself and the hitter to think about things. It's just going out there and executing the game plan."

Fastball command has helped, too, and his heater has been a little hotter than in recent seasons. Most of the trouble in his first two starts came after walks, and he issued only one Friday.

He also didn't issue a homer for the first time in three starts, a sign that his two-seamer is sinking and secondary pitches are working. Gallardo said he used a cutter to keep the White Sox off-balance.

That, and the pitch clock that is still keeping him humming.

Shin-Soo Choo is still humming at the plate, and ...

3. ... as strange as it sounds in a game in which the Rangers hit five home runs in the second and third innings, his leadoff walk might have been what led to the night at the plate.

Choo made Dylan Covey throw nine pitches to start the game, on a 98-degree night, with a hot-hitting team sitting in the dugout watching every pitch. Covey threw all that he had, and Choo managed a walk that extended his on-base streak to 41 games.

(That's tied for the MLB lead this season with Odubel Herrera. Herrera also reached in his final four games in 2017 and the first 41 this season.)

The Rangers threatened in the first, but didn't score. Rougned Odor opened the second with a homer on the first pitch, Robinson Chirinos hit a three-run shot three batters later, and Nomar Mazara also had a three-run shot in the seven-run inning.

Joey Gallo opened the third with a homer, and Choo crushed reliever Chris Volstad's first pitch for a two-run shot for a 10-0 lead. Choo's hitting streak is up to 12 games.

The entire rally had roots in his first-inning walk.

"You've got to believe that the situation, you've got to face the first hitter and he's digging in and really making it challenging for you," manager Jeff Banister said. "That's what Choo does. That's what he's been doing. That's his mind-set. He's up there to set the table for every hitter that comes after him."

Chirinos was one of the observers in the dugout in the first inning.

"It gives everybody a better idea when we're going up to hit," Chirinos said. "It seems like Choo's been doing that the whole year, giving quality at-bats, seeing a lot of pitches and getting on base. The guy's unbelievable."

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