Texas Rangers vs Miami Marlins (7/21/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

We’re welcomed back from the All-Star break with this gem of a game between the Texas Rangers and the Miami Marlins.

It’s not all that interesting on paper, but I’m fascinated to see if Pablo Lopez can get back to his Cy Young ways in the second half.

In the meanwhile, can the Rangers make any run at a Wildcard spot?

And in this game, where does the value lie?

Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Thursday’s matchup.

Texas Rangers vs Miami Marlins Odds

This line seems pretty fair. Vegas values the Marlins and the Rangers about equal in this game.

Although Miami has taken some sharp money, pushing the Marlins closer to the -120 range. That’s likely because of star pitcher Lopez, who will always get some public action.

The total seems a tad low at 7, but these are two offenses that are pitiful and two pitchers with decent-sized upside. Even Jon Gray has pitched to an ERA under 4.00 with a 6-4 record this season.

The wind is blowing in at over 10mph from right field, but the wind doesn’t matter at LoanDepot Park.

Texas Rangers Starting Lineup

J. Gray R
6-4 3.71 ERA

3B J. Smith L
SS M. Semien R
1B N. Lowe L
C J. Heim S
RF A. Garcia R
CF L. Taveras S
LF K. Calhoun L
DH E. Hernandez R
2B C. Culberson R

Texas Rangers vs Pablo Lopez

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for Lopez, who posted an uninspiring 5.34 ERA and 1.32 WHIP during his five starts in June. Miraculously, Miami went 3-2 in those games.

But Lopez has started to get it back together. He’s made three July starts of at least five innings (16 ⅓ in total) while allowing just four runs (2.20 ERA). I’m a little worried about his walks, given his 13:8 K/BB ratio has fueled a 4.52 FIP, but his changeup seems to have come around.

chart 2022 07 20T213606.209

Image credit: Baseball Savant

When Lopez’s changeup is working, it’s impossible to hit. The thing breaks like crazy both vertically and horizontally, and he’s allowed just a .180 batting average on the pitch while causing a 40% Whiff rate. All-in-all, he’s accumulated a -7 Run Value on the pitch this season.

Marlins fans best hope Lopez gets his changeup together. Miami needs another top-tier pitcher to pair with Sandy Alcantara to compete for a Wildcard spot.

I wouldn’t expect much from the Ranger bats. Corey Seager is having a fine season, but after two straight seasons of an OPS above .925, the .806 OPS this season doesn’t inspire much confidence. Moreover, Marcus Semien has been a downright disaster in Arlington this year.

The Rangers beefed up in the offseason, but 2022’s first half hasn’t looked too pretty. It’ll take an eight-game surge for Texas to compete for a playoff spot.

Miami Marlins Starting Lineup

P. Lopez R
6-4 2.86 ERA

2B J. Wendle L
DH G. Cooper R
LF J. Soler R
1B J. Aguilar R
RF A. Garcia R
CF J. Sanchez L
3B B. Anderson R
SS M. Rojas R
C J. Stallings R

Miami Marlins vs Jon Gray

Gray was due for this regression last season, and he has seen all of it plus some in 2022. After posting a 4.59 ERA and a 3.95 xERA last season, those numbers are down to a 3.71 ERA and a 3.54 xERA this year. And Gray is likely due for more regression given his 3.25 xFIP.

However, Gray’s been trending in the right direction for years. His exit velocities are reaching career lows (88.3mph) while his strikeouts are reaching career highs (10.04 K/9). It’s done wonders for his career progression.

He’s always been a fastball-slider pitcher, and his slider has always been a great pitch. He’s just never gotten control of his four-seam fastball, until this season. The Whiff rate is up about 2% year-over-year, and he’s accumulated a -4 Run Value on the pitch this year after a +15 Run Value last season.

I think it’s the added velocity. When Gray is pitching well, his fastball is being thrown hard. And he’s throwing it hard again.

chart 2022 07 20T220959.988

Image credit: Baseball Savant

The Marlins’ offense continues to confound me. They post above league-average marks in wRC+ and in runs scored, but every game it feels like they’re getting shut out. Miami went into the All-Star break getting swept by the Phillies while scoring just one run in three games.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. being hurt is a big deal. The starting second National League baseman in the All-Star Game is having a career year with his 140 OPS+, having already knocked 14 home runs. He hasn’t been cleared yet, and his return date is uncertain.

Texas Rangers vs Miami Marlins Picks & Prediction

My Pick: Miami Marlins ML (-112 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

The Marlins’ offense is not good, but neither is the Rangers’. The Rangers only have one plus-plus hitter in Seager, and he isn’t having an all-time season.

I’d much rather back Lopez than Gray. Lopez has been up-and-down, but he’s one of the league’s best when he’s pitching well. There’s a good chance he comes in and shuts down the Rangers in this one.

I project the bullpens as an even match, and the Marlins have a big advantage on the defensive side. The Marlins rank 10th in Defensive Runs Saved this season, while the Rangers are 22nd.

All-in-all, I see value on the home team with the better pitcher. I’ll bet Miami up to about -120.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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