Veteran right-hander Lance Lynn was named the Texas Rangers’ opening day starter over left-hander Mike Minor and former AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward announced the decision Thursday, even though the team has yet to receive their upcoming 60-game schedule for the pandemic-delayed and shortened season. He said the choice was between Lynn and Minor, who was the team’s starter on opening day last year.
Woodward initially planned to make the announcement March 13, but that was the day MLB shut down spring training because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Both had really good years last year and carried our ball club,” Woodward told reporters. “They both deserve it, but at the end, I felt like since I gave it to Mike last year, I’ll give it to Lance this year.”
Lynn posted a 16-11 record and notched a career-high 246 strikeouts in 208 1/3 innings last season. His wins and strikeouts led the team, with his strikeout total being the third-most in a season for the Rangers — behind only Nolan Ryan (301 in 1989) and Yu Darvish (277 in 2013).
Minor had a 14-10 record and 3.59 ERA in 208 1/3 innings last season. He finished second on the Rangers with 200 strikeouts, trailing only Lynn.
Kluber, who was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Rangers in December, made only seven starts last season due to a broken right forearm and an oblique injury.
“I know Corey is a tremendous pitcher and a two-time Cy Young winner, but what Lance and Mike have done for our ball club — especially last year — they deserve that,” Woodward said. “I went back and forth with Lance and Mike. I know I gave it to Mike last year and I talked to Mike about this. He did nothing to not deserve this start this year.”
Lynn started the Rangers’ final game at Globe Life Field last September. Texas was originally scheduled to open the 2020 season against the Mariners in Seattle, but the revised MLB schedule could have Lynn starting the first game in the Rangers’ new ballpark.