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New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers: Series Preview

New York and Texas square off for a weekend series in the Bronx.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Looking for another series win at home against an AL West opponent, the Yankees will welcome the surprising Texas Rangers and their league-leading offense (6.09 runs per game) to the Bronx. With a 46-28 record, Bruce Bochy’s squad holds a commanding lead over the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels, each at least six games back in the loss column, and appear poised for their first postseason appearance since 2016 — the last time that Houston failed to win the AL West in a normal 162-game season.

Yankee fans are well aware of the power of this attack, led by the most menacing middle-infield combo in the bigs, in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. After all, the Rangers hung 15 on the Yanks the last time they met, earlier this season in Arlington.

The Yankees opened up a four-game set in late April against the Rangers with a 4-2 win, on the back of a strong outing from Gerrit Cole, going six and two-thirds, allowing a pair of runs. However, thereafter, it went downhill quickly, as Aaron Boone’s men dropped the following three by a combined 22-4 result.

It will be another tough task for the Yankees, as the Rangers have won four out of their last five, following a bit of a skid in mid-June. They haven’t actually announced their probable starting pitchers as of late on Thursday night, but we’ll go with the starters that Roster Resource has lined up for Texas.

Friday: Clarke Schmidt vs. Dane Dunning (7:05 pm ET)

This particular matchup won’t invoke fond memories for Rangers fans, as it was on April 28th, when Dane Dunning had to come in relief for Jacob deGrom in a matchup against the Yankees. The recently-signed ace left with forearm tightness, eventually needing to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Dunning took over that night, and earned the win against Clarke Schmidt, and has been a part of the rotation ever since. Schmidt will hope to fare better than the handful of runs over 10 hits he allowed in five innings of work as he took the loss. He’s been sharp over the last month and change, with a 2.56 ERA and 3.78 FIP over 31.2 innings since getting shelled by the Rays on May 14th.

The Yankees did manage a couple of runs against Dunning on that one, but with no damage to the rest of the bullpen, Texas took that one, 5-2.

Saturday: Luis Severino vs. Jon Gray (4:05 pm ET)

Back when these two contenders first met in Texas, the Yankees were without Luis Severino, still recovering from a lat injury. He’s been quite uneven since returning, as after a couple terrific starts in May, he’s posted a 9.16 ERA in June. And although it was a four-game set, Jon Gray was the one Rangers’ rotation member who the Yanks missed.

With that in mind, it will be an even playing field in one sense, with both of these No. 2 arms facing their opponent for the first time in the season. However, it won’t be Gray’s first trip to the Bronx, as he’s had a couple of lackluster starts in Yankee Stadium, having allowed five runs on eight and a third, with two no-decisions. He’s looked good in 2023 with a 2.96 ERA and 1.053 WHIP, though his fly-ball tendencies could hurt him in the Bronx.

Sunday: Andrew Heaney vs. Gerrit Cole (1:35 pm ET)

This duel will repeat the matchup that opened up the first game between these two clubs, as Cole outdueled the former Yankee Heaney for the Yankees' sole win of that series at Globe Life Field.

Despite taking the loss, Heaney was fairly serviceable in that one, allowing only four hits in six innings, but ultimately done in by a couple of second-inning bombs from DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres. The former of those two Yankees could really stand to get going these days. But even with the occasional dinger problems, Heaney can still twirl a gem every now and then.

Cole who’s on pace for his best season in pinstripes, will take the hill searching for his ninth win of 2023, currently only trailing Shane McClanahan (11), and Nathan Eovaldi (9), in the American League. He’s also allowed just five runs total in four June starts, striking out just over a batter per inning with just one homer allowed.

Update: Texas has since announced that Nathan Eovaldi will start Sunday instead of Heaney.