While the Texas Rangers have struggled to find success on the road, they are learning that they can count on young right-hander Dane Dunning.
One day after the Rangers ended a 16-game road losing streak with a 12-1 road victory over the host Los Angeles Dodgers, Dunning will be on the mound Sunday for the series finale. The start is the 20th career major-league outing for Dunning, who will square off against right-hander Walker Buehler.
Dunning’s season numbers are pedestrian at best. He has a 2-4 record and a 4.26 ERA. But he has only allowed 13 of his 28 runs outside of the first inning and has had one run of support or fewer in nine of his 12 starts this season.
The 26-year-old has given up just two earned runs in 9 2/3 innings in June. He is coming off an outing at home against the Tampa Bay Rays last Sunday in which he delivered five scoreless innings on three hits with six strikeouts.
“Dane’s a competitor,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s learning, and he’s talking about the right things. He’s obviously grown a lot this year and had to deal with some adversity at times, and he keeps going out there fighting.”
The start against the Rays was the third time he has gone at least five innings without allowing a run this season. The Rangers have lost all three of those games.
Because Dunning is so early in his career and the Rangers are keeping his innings in check, he has not been going deep into games. Dunning has not thrown 90 pitches in an outing this season, and one of his two starts with at least 80 pitches was last his last outing.
Dunning will be making his first career appearance against the Dodgers, looking for his first road victory this season. He is 0-3 in six away starts with a 7.20 ERA, well above his 1.97 mark in six home starts.
It wasn’t all that long ago when Buehler (5-0, 2.56) was in Dunning’s shoes, handled with care by his team and not allowed to go very deep into games. He has emerged from that probationary period to become arguably the best starter on a talented staff that includes Cy Young Award winners like Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer.
The only other time Buehler faced the Rangers, in fact, was back when he was being handled with care. He gave up two runs on four hits in a 2018 start but was only allowed to go four innings as he took a no-decision in an eventual 8-4 Dodgers victory.
Four of Buehler’s five wins this season have come in his last five starts. He scattered two hits over seven scoreless innings in a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.
What Buehler will hope to avoid is Dunning’s fate of poor run support. Playing without Max Muncy (oblique) and Cody Bellinger (hamstring) on Saturday, the Dodgers had just six hits Saturday and scored their lone run on an AJ Pollock home run.
“I think we got it early,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Muncy, who went on the 10-day injured list. “He’s (injured) it before in the past and it’s not as significant as before.”
–Field Level Media