The Texas Rangers, mired in last place in the American League West while acknowledging they are in a rebuilding mode, announced Thursday that they’ve reached an agreement with general manager Jon Daniels on a multi-year contract extension.
The Rangers then went out and lost 5-2 to the defending World Champion Houston Astros in the opener of a four-game home series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
The Astros will send right-hander Justin Verlander (7-2, 1.24 ERA) to the mound Friday while Texas counters with right-hander Doug Fister (1-6, 4.13).
The exact terms of the Daniels’ extension were not made public, but his current contract was set to expire at the end of the season.
“This is really about ownership showing their faith in what we are building, the direction we are going and the team we have in place on the field and in the front office,” Daniels told mlb.com.
Daniels said Texas will continue to focus on developing its young players at the major league level and rebuilding its farm system.
“We are not where we want to be by any means, but we are making progress,” Daniels explained. “We are not where we want to be, but we are going to get there. There is a sense of urgency not in a quick fix but to make progress in putting the building blocks in place and keep going.”
Houston, a game behind Seattle as it heads into a stretch of contests during which it will not play a team with a winning record until after the All-Star Game, was without shortstop Carlos Correa on Thursday.
Correa was pulled from Wednesday’s 7-5 victory over the Mariners in the seventh inning with soreness in his right side. After seeing a doctor Thursday, Correa said he is optimistic that he can return soon.
“I got really good news — the injury is nothing major,” Correa said prior to Thursday’s game in Arlington. “The MRI didn’t show anything, so we will just take things day to day and see how it feels when I swing the bat. I want to play but they won’t let me. I can’t wait to be out there again with my team.”
Verlander has been dominant this season, allowing 14 runs on 46 hits in 87 1/3 innings while striking out 104 batters and walking 17. He took a no-decision in his most recent outing on June 2 in Houston, allowing two runs on three hits and leaving the game in line for the win before the Astros’ bullpen gave up the lead and ultimately fell to the Red Sox, 5-4.
Verlander is 12-7 with a 2.72 ERA in 23 career starts against the Rangers, including a 1-1 mark with 0.90 in three starts this season versus Texas.
His start Friday will be the 399th of his career. Once to 400 starts, he will become the 117th pitcher in baseball’s modern era (since 1900) to reach that milestone. Only two active pitchers have reached 400 career starts — the Rangers’ Bartolo Colon (539) and the Yankees‘ CC Sabathia (520).
Fister will be making his 12th start of the season and will be working on regular four-days’ rest after taking the loss in a 3-1 Texas defeat on Sunday in Anaheim. Texas is 4-7 in his 11 starts.
The former Astro has gone 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA over five career starts versus Houston including a 1-1 mark with a 3.18 ERA in two starts against the Astros in 2018.
Fister owns five seasons of 10 or more wins in his career, including a high of 16 victories with Washington in 2014, when he finished eighth in National League Cy Young Award voting.