Rangers @ Dodgers June 11, 2024: World Series Champs visit Los Angeles with an old friend

The Dodgers (41-26) host the defending World Series Champion Texas Rangers (31-34) tonight in a three game series after just concluding a rather interesting road trip. They lost two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates (31-34) which wasn’t all that surprising based on their recent play, but responded well as they managed to win the tough series against the New York Yankees (47-21). Texas hasn’t performed how they would’ve expected to going into the 2024 season, as they’ve had a myriad of injuries combined with underperformance from key players. James Paxton will be on the mound, up against the right-handed Dane Dunning. Neither has had their season go to plan thus far, so they’ll both be looking to have the start that gets things rolling in the right direction.

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7:10 PM Los Angeles
2B Semien SS Betts
DH Grossman (S) DH Ohtani (L)
RF García 1B Freeman (L)
C Heim (S) C Smith
LF Langford LF T. Hernández
1B Lowe (S) 2B Lux (L)
SS Duran CF Pages
3B Wendzel RF Heyward (L)
CF Taveras (S) 3B Rojas
P Dunning (R) P Paxton (L)

The top five in the order are the same as usual against a right-handed pitcher. Teoscar Hernández is coming off a red-hot series in New York, with three home runs, six total hits, and nine runs batted in, earning him the National League Player of the Week award. He was the key to winning that series, and his performance has been huge for this team. The top of the order above him has been inconsistent, especially so as of late.

Miguel Rojas has been incredible this year, as he’s always fantastic with the glove but his offense has seemed to turn a corner in his age 35 season. His 123 wRC+ would be a career high outside his 140 mark in the shortened 2020 season. Andy Pages cost the team a few runs over the weekend, with a dropped catch and two poor slides into third base. He’s a rookie and I doubt he makes those base-running mistakes again. Until James Outman is back, there isn’t really another realistic center field option. Gavin Lux is slashing .248/.296/.350 for an 87 wRC+ over his last seven weeks. He’s great at second base and those offensive splits are just slightly below average for a second baseman. The team is still hoping he can get back to 2022 form, but he’s been fine for now.

For the Rangers, they’re out Josh Jung and Evan Carter, both top tier prospects in the game. Jung was a 2024 All-Star and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. He looked poised for a big year, but a wrist fracture sidelined his season just five games in. Carter was incredible for Texas last year, with a ridiculous 180 wRC+ and 1.058 OPS in 23 games. Small sample size, but he also came up huge for them in the postseason, with a 155 wRC+ and .917 OPS. Those numbers were down to just 79 and .633 this year, and he’s now out for an extended period with a lumbar sprain.

Adolis García hit 39 homers last year, accruing 4.4 fWAR with a 124 wRC+ and .836 OPS while playing a solid right field. He’s down to a 93 wRC+ and .699 OPS this year, and his defense has taken a step back. Mitch Garver put up a 138 wRC+ for them last year with 19 home runs in 87 games, playing catcher and at designated hitter, offense they’ve been missing this year. Third baseman Josh Smith has been amazing for them in the absence of Jung, with a 134 wRC+ and .810 OPS, but is left-handed and will be out against Paxton. Marcus Semien has been good, with a 117 wRC+ and excellent defense at second base, but his offensive numbers are down slightly from 2023.

Corey Seager is day-to-day with a left hamstring issue that occurred last Wednesday. Feels very Dodger-esque to not just put him on the Injured List. He missed 31 games in 2023 because of a left hamstring strain as well, so it would seem wise to not chance it. Additionally he had sports hernia surgery on 1/30, so I don’t really get why they don’t just give him the two weeks off for his health. He had a .631 OPS and 80 wRC+ through March and April, but had a 1.047 OPS in May with a 181 wRC+, improving his season long marks to 130 and .832. Overall, the Rangers are 23rd in wRC+ against left-handed pitching (92), but Paxton has been bad so maybe it cancels out.

Just for fun, the Dodgers are the best offense in baseball against left-handed pitching, with a 132 wRC+ and .811 OPS. What world are we living in?

Here’s how the two offenses compare as a whole.

The Rangers haven’t been great and are missing key offensive pieces. The Dodgers have been great, but incredibly inconsistent.


Here’s how Dunning and Paxton compare among 124 starters with at least 50 innings pitched.

In his last outing, Dunning allowed three runs on four hits and one walk over five innings against the Tigers. He allowed a two-run homer to old friend Zach McKinstry as well as a solo shot to Riley Greene. Story of his season. He’s having such a strange year, as he’s striking out significantly more batters than usual, with 10.1 K/9, and a 26.9% strikeout rate. His walks are up, but his batting average allowed (.199), and batting average on balls in play (.227) are both down to career lows. His alarming 21.3% home-run/fly-ball rate is the highest in baseball, with league-average sitting at 10.8%. Due to this, his 3.74 xFIP is 51st of 124, quite a reasonable range to be in.

The Rangers have some pitching reinforcements coming over the next couple months, and they’ll hope it’s not too late and they can hold onto a wild card spot until then. Tyler Mahle had proven to be a reliable three win pitcher over the last few seasons with the Reds and Twins, but underwent Tommy John surgery early May, 2023. The Rangers signed him to a two-year deal this offseason, expecting to get him back hopefully late in the season. Additionally, they’re out Jacob deGrom, who also underwent Tommy John surgery in June of last year and is expected back late this summer. Max Scherzer is out with a recovery of his own, after surgery on a herniated disc back in December, although he’s expected back near the end of the month.

Paxton took his first loss of the year in his last outing, allowing six earned runs on six hits and two walks across 1.2 innings against Pittsburgh. It was bad. He’s given up 15 runs over his last 15.1 innings pitched, while allowing multiple homers twice over that stretch. His underlying numbers finally caught up with him, and if he’d been performing how all those stats indicate he should, he’s a borderline Major League starter. Bobby Miller is looming, and Clayton Kershaw looks like he’ll be back sometime in July. Paxton is eating innings and that is useful, but he needs to be better.


Once again, more good news for Miller and Kershaw.


Dalton Rushing is probably going to be ready for Triple-A soon, but Hunter Feduccia is there as he can’t manage to get an opportunity in the majors.


First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. PDT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!