The Texas Rangers transferred ace Jacob deGrom to the 60-day injured list on Monday because of elbow inflammation, a move that will keep him off the big league roster until at least June 28.
The good news for the Rangers is that right-hander Dane Dunning has stepped into deGrom's rotation spot rather seamlessly.
Dunning (4-1, 2.06 ERA) will make his sixth start for the Rangers as they take on the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night in the middle game of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas. The Cardinals will counter with left-hander Matthew Liberatore (1-1, 4.91).
Texas has won four games in a row and 10 of its past 12 games and is riding high after taking the series opener 4-3 in walk-off fashion Monday on Nathaniel Lowe's RBI single.
Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said, "A hard-fought game. A good character-builder. You've got a 3-1 lead, they tie it in the eighth, and then we found a way to win this ballgame. I just thought it was a great win."
Dunning will look to keep the winning ways going. He took a loss in his latest start, at Detroit on Wednesday, when he allowed three runs on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts over five innings. The three runs were the most Dunning has allowed in a game this year.
Dunning has never faced the Cardinals but is 4-1 with a 3.34 ERA in 13 games, including 10 starts, in interleague play.
He hopes to get offensive support from the sizzling bat of teammate Marcus Semien. The Texas leadoff man is riding a majors-leading, 24-game hitting streak, and he scored the winning run Monday to cap a night when he went 2-for-4 with a walk.
Liberatore is tasked with slowing the high-scoring Rangers. He allowed four runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts over five innings in his previous start at Cleveland on May 26, a 4-3 loss.
Liberatore has never faced the Rangers in his young career, and he has yet to win on the road. He is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five games, including three starts, at St. Louis. On the road, he is 0-3 with a 7.90 ERA in seven games, including six starts.
The Cardinals' offense was led Monday by Paul DeJong, who finished 2-for-3 with a walk. Rookie Luken Baker, who played college baseball just down the road from Arlington at TCU, went 1-for-4 in his second major league game. Monday also marked the first time since May 15 that Cardinals stars Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt both collected an RBI in the same game.
At the end of the day, though, the wins and losses are all that matter, and the Cardinals have lost four straight. The past three setbacks have been one-run decisions.
"We need to get to the starter earlier," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. "Then, once we do that, we've got to be able to continue to add on. From a pitching standpoint, I feel like certain guys are settling in and actually doing a better job than I saw early on in the year."
--Field Level Media