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The Texas Rangers Could Really Use Cole Ragans Right About Now

The Texas Rangers recently lost Max Scherzer for the rest of the season to a torn teres major muscle, a major blow to their World Series hopes in the midst of a fierce battle that could land them either the AL West crown, a wild-card spot, or – just as easily – nothing at all.

And while the Rangers are holding their own heading into the last week of the season, they could certainly use a little more pitching depth with Scherzer out. If only they had a flamethrowing left-hander with a 2.34 ERA in 11 starts this season.

Oh yeah, they did: Cole Ragans.

Ragans, 25, was dealt to the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline this year – along with Roni Cabrera – in exchange for 35-year-old reliever Aroldis Chapman in an attempt to further bolster the Rangers’ bullpen for the postseason. The move made sense, especially as bullpens have become ever-more important to the playoffs in recent years.

And honestly, the move might still pay off; despite three blown saves, Chapman does have three saves and five holds with Texas, sporting a 3.29 ERA 27 1/3 innings with 49 strikeouts. But beyond this year, the loss of Ragans might certainly end up stinging the Rangers, who currently have a rotation full of pitchers on the wrong side of 30.

As for Ragans, he was a 2016 first-round pick by the Rangers, debuting in 2022 following two Tommy John surgeries. Between last season and 2023, Ragans had a 5.32 ERA in 26 appearances (nine starts) with Texas, so the trade wasn’t exactly a tough decision for the team to make. But Ragans has seemingly put it all together immediately with the Royals, and Kansas City might have found themselves a gem, executing the perfect deal for their rental reliever – the goal of any rebuilding team.

Ragans has been fantastic in those 11 starts with the Royals, striking out 81 hitters in 65 1/3 innings and increasing his velocity across the board from 2022. He throws his four-seamer at 96.5 miles per hour on average but can touch 100. He introduced a slider to the mix this season to go along with his changeup, cutter, and curveball as secondary offerings. His 2.48 FIP, 3.22 xERA, and obscene 191 ERA+ tell the same story: Ragans has been incredible with the Royals, who really needed some luck in the pitching department. And here, a former first-round pick who completely reinvented himself has fallen into their lap.

And down the road, there’s a chance the Rangers might look back on this trade and regret the whole thing.

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