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Should the Astros worry about the Rangers?

The Rangers have made big improvements, but are they ready to contend in ‘22?

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2021 season, the Rangers were one of baseball’s worst teams. They lost 102 games and one the second-worst record in the American League, only behind the Orioles’ 110 losses. But right after the campaign ended, they anticipated a pretty active offseason and an increase for the 2022 payroll. And things immediately went that way as Texas went shopping, signing two of the biggest free agents and one established starter.

The Rangers added second baseman, MVP runner-up Marcus Semien, elite shortstop Corey Seager, and 30-year-old righty Jon Gray. So far, it’s cost only $556 million to acquire those players.

And something tells me they’re not done. According to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, Texas is “still working to upgrade their starting rotation” and has even asked for Reds’ starters such as Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle. Plus, the Dallas Morning News recently had the Rangers as one of the interested teams in Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki.

Should the Astros be worried about all these additions to the Rangers’ roster?

I’d say that’s a no.

We have to take a look at their rotation. Gray, who pitched for seven years in Coors Field, immediately became their ace after the signing. Yes, a guy that has only had two good seasons in his inconsistent MLB career. A guy with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 510 1/3 innings since 2018 — and that includes a pretty good year in 2019.

Even though the Rangers have some intriguing pieces with upside, they don’t have any other established starters as of now. Gray shouldn’t be seen as the only needed improvement for a rotation that finished with the second-worst in ERA in the American League (5.33).

Plus, they haven’t done anything to improve their bullpen so far. In terms of closer, I don’t know if they want to go all-in with righty Joe Barlow, who did a good job in 2021 but has only thrown 29 innings with the big-league club.

When it comes to their offense, it’s not always about Seager or Semien. If they don’t add more pieces to the puzzle, they would enter the 2022 season with lots of questions to answer…

· Will Adolis García be as good as he was in the first half or as bad as he was in the second half of 2021?

· Will Seager and Semien get used to their new home from the get-go?

· Who’s gonna be the catcher? Who’s gonna be the third baseman?

· Will Nathaniel Lowe repeat his 2021 success to establish himself as their first baseman?

· Can Willie Calhoun finally stay healthy all year long?

As you see, there should still be work to do for the Rangers before the 2022 season gets underway. Right now, I’d be more afraid of the Angels than the Rangers, but that might change with a couple of moves.

Regarding the Astros, it’s not a secret they have been quiet throughout most of the offseason —except for the Héctor Neris and Justin Verlander signings— and need to make some important decisions after the MLB lockout is behind us such as the shortstop void, their starting rotation, and their bench. Interesting days are coming for the AL West Division.