Results tagged ‘ Matt Harrison ’
We haven’t even played the first exhibition game of the season, yet there seems to be no shortage of news out of Texas Rangers camp. To wit:
RON WASHINGTON GETS AN EXTENSION
All through the off-season, Jon Daniels assured everyone that Wash would get a contract extension and Wash deserved a contract extension. Yet for four long months, said contract extension was nowhere to be found. Finally the new contract was announced, though many of us were surprised it was only a 1-year extension, through the 2015 season. Wash deserves a longer contract, but I’m thinking the one-year bit wasn’t necessarily JD’s idea. After all, the Rangers’ skipper enters the 2014 season in his 61st year on the planet. While that isn’t really ancient (only three years older than me), maybe Wash is the one who wants to keep it relatively open-ended. The desire is still there but maybe he’s keeping an eye on his health as well. Wash deserves at least three years on his contract and not two. On the other hand, I’m old enough to remember when Walter Alston managed the Dodgers and it was ALWAYS on a series of one-year contracts. Short contracts lead to lots of speculation, but I’m willing to take Daniels at his word when he says he wants Wash to continue managing the Rangers for a long time to come.
NELSON CRUZ IS NO LONGER A RANGER
It was always kind of doubtful Cruz would return to Texas, but the longer he went without signing anywhere, the more we got our hopes up he just might return. Heck, for the one year at $8 million that he signed with the Orioles, it isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility it could’ve happened. Cruz (or his agent) badly miscalculated the market and he ended up losing over $6 million dollars because of it. On the other hand, had Cruz taken the Rangers up on the $14 million qualifying offer, it’s likely Shin-Soo Choo or Prince Fielder or both wouldn’t be wearing Rangers uniforms today. I’m going to miss Nelly and his “Boomstick”, but wish him well in Baltimore (except when they play Texas, of course).
Matt Harrison slept on a bad bed and thus will not be ready at season’s open. Geovany Soto had to have surgery on his left foot to shave a small bone that was pressing up against a tendon, Tanner Scheppers has a mild sore back, as does Elvis Andrus; and Jurickson Profar has mild shoulder tendonitis and isn’t allowed to throw in camp yet. It’s amazing how these little aches and pains before even a pitch has been thrown in exhibition play, can make us fans ready to call it quits on the season already. Folks, only Harrison is doubtful for Opening Day. Hard as it is, I’m trying hard to refrain from nail-biting so soon. I refuse to worry until I hear the walking wounded list only two weeks away from first pitch. For now, I’m just treating it as players just taking a little longer to get loosened up.
MEANWHILE IN OTHER CAMPS
While it’s easy for us to think the worst over every little muscle tweak for our own team, the converse is also true: We think every positive article about our rivals is absolute truth and we start worrying about them accordingly. Case in point: There have been a number of positive articles out of Angels camp about Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. If both players played at the level they were at just three years ago, the Angels line-up would be as scary as it gets in the AL West. The thought of it doesn’t please me one bit. I have to keep reminding myself, even if they manage the feat, the Angels still have a weak pitching staff and are going to need every bit of that offense to become a credible threat in the AL West. It must be the Rangers fan in me that makes it easier to imagine the 2014 Hamilton looking like 2010 Josh. For Pujols, he could still be potent, but maybe only to the point of being like he was his first year in an Angels uniform.
In Florida, the Houston Astros have a few new faces in camp. The ‘Stros were terrible in 2012 and, while they’re likely destined to finish last again in 2014, a 10-game improvement wouldn’t be out of the question. Considering the Mariners are likely a little better than a year ago and the A’s are still the A’s, whoever wins the AL West is going to face a lot more challenges than a year ago.
Oh, and one other thing about an AL East rival: The way fans view positive news out of rivals’ camps is the same way many in the media view the New York Yankees. It’s the mystique of the Bronx Bombers (or the Evil Empire, whichever you prefer) that must make them do it. Listening to MLB TV on my radio last night, I heard one of their analysts going all man-crush on the Yankees and how they’ll be so hard to beat in 2014. Five minutes earlier, he labelled the Rangers a non-factor in the AL West. In his “critique” of the Yankees, he talked about how great the pitching staff would be and anointed newcomer Masahiro Tanaka a #2 right off the bat. The Yanks may indeed be very good this year, but I just don’t see how they’re that much improved from 2013. They’ve lost Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, Curtis Granderson and Andy Pettite (I won’t even talk about A-Rod). They’re assuming a big year from CC Sabathia on the basis of weight loss, without noting Sabathia is another year older and has a lot of innings on his arm already. There’s no guarantee Mark Teixeira will ever resemble the feared hitter he once was. They’re also assuming a big year from Michael Pineda, who hasn’t even pitched in two years. Sorry guys. I’m just not seeing it right now.
As I pulled into the office today, I noted my smartphone downloading the new MLB At Bat app! In a couple of days, I’ll be able to listen in to exhibition games again. Living in Texas, I can’t go for the MLB.TV component as I’ll never get the Rangers games, but I love getting the Gameday audio! The season draws closer. All is right with the world again.
I had modest hopes. To me, a World Series appearance wasn’t in the cards for the Texas Rangers in 2013, but entering the extended regular season finale, I had hopes my boys would be able to extend their winning streak to nine to get a shot at the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. David Price put in a gutty performance and the Tampa Bay Rays ended the Rangers’ season at 163 games.
Still, it was a helluva year. Who would have thought the Rangers would be capable of winning 91 games in a season where:
2) Berkman was a bust and the team’s best power hitter, Nelson Cruz, got suspended for the last 50 games of the year.
4) #2 starter Matt Harrison only managed two ineffective starts before going down to injury for the year.
6) The big pitching acquisition, Matt Garza, had many more poor performances than good ones.
The Rangers handled all this adversity and still won 91 games. They did it with a new infusion of youth that will only get better in the next few years, particularly Leonys Martin, Jurickson Profar and Martin Perez, who all showed signs of being major contributors.
Meanwhile, there are some players who won’t return for another round in 2014. David Murphy will most certainly be allowed to leave via free agency. Adam Rosales will also go. The pitching staff may say goodbye to Jason Frasor and even Joe Nathan leaving is a possibility.
Others are iffy. Nelson Cruz will be a free agent. He has stated often over the years he wants to stay in Texas, yet management never saw fit to make him an offer these past three years. Still, they may relent and bring him back as the team’s designated hitter because this team desperately needs some power. I’d love to see utility man Jeff Baker return. AJ Pierzynski could be gone as the Rangers keep getting linked to a free agency pursuit of Brian McCann. After his year ended so poorly, I can’t see Mitch Moreland as part of the plan for 2014. Whether that means Texas will ask Ian Kinsler to move to first (which also opens up second base for Jurickson Profar) or they pursue a free agent like James Loney remains to be seen. And, of course, there could be trades in the future that could see others leave the organization. Maybe the aforementioned David Price could come Texas’ way via trade.
This off-season I expect the Rangers to address their offensive needs as there are only a couple of modifications needed for the pitching staff. Four starters and at least five bullpen pieces are already set. Then I expect Texas will be a better team than they were in 2013. The window isn’t closed yet. It still has a few good years of being open left.
Dear Houston Astros Fans,
You know it’s been a tough season when you’ve been mathematically eliminated from the pennant race before September even arrives. That’s where you found your team Tuesday. Making matters worse, it looks like 2013 will be the third consecutive season your team has lost over 100 games and, thanks to your minuscule payroll and despite no local over the air or cable TV coverage in the Houston market, your new owner will be turning the biggest profit of all 30 big league teams this year. At least, that’s what the folks at Forbes Magazine say.
Why am I telling you all this? Is it because I, as a Rangers fan, want to rub it in? Nope. I actually want to tell you to hold your head high and enjoy the rest of this season. The fact is, if you’re an Astros fan right now, you are a die-hard because nobody in his or her right mind would want to keep watching this team lose over 100 games year after year. I know. I’ve been a Texas Rangers fan for over 40 years now.
That’s why I want to tell you to embrace this team. Be glad you have found Jose Altuve and Jason Castro. They’re your version of Cecil Espy, Geno Petralli, Pete O’Brien and Oddibe McDowell- players who were supposedly the next best thing ever to wear a Texas Rangers uniform but only turned out to be yet more cogs in the Rangers history of sub-.500 teams. But they were MY guys and they helped pave the way for better guys to come. They were the ones who, on the odd nights when they rose to the occasion, kept giving me optimism that the team had turned the corner and good times were on the way. Altuve and Castro are two of those players who help you see brighter times ahead and I can guarantee you do have brighter days ahead.
All of your full-season minor league teams made the playoffs in their respective leagues this year. The Astros have a very strong farm system and soon those players will contribute on the big-league level. I will make a bold prediction to you Astros fans. I think the Astros will be competing for an American League West title again BEFORE the Los Angeles Angels do the same. The Angels have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Despite their massive TV money, they’ll be paying Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols big bucks long after their effectiveness has gone. They’ll have to pony up more bucks in a couple of years to keep Mike Trout and thanks to that bad minor league system, have no big chips to trade for established help. No, Astros fans, you may be on a 3-year 100+ loss streak now, but three years from now I bet you’re a force in the AL West. I think the Rangers still will be as well and that’s going to make for some intense battles for the Silver Boot.
When your team comes back and they WILL come back, it is years like 2013 you are going to remember. It is those years that will make the success taste even sweeter. I guarantee it because three years ago, this lifetime Rangers fan got to experience it for the first time. When Texas went to back to back World Series in 2010 and 2011, the likes of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler and pitchers like Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz made all the years of following Scott Fletcher, Don Slaught, Charlie Hough, Jeff Russell, Pete Incaviglia, Benji Gil and Kevin Mench worth it.
People who climb on the bandwagon may get excited when the team they just adopted go all the way (or almost all the way), but the pure JOY belongs to us old-timers, the ones who weather through all the bad years first. That’s why I implore you, Astros fans, to embrace this bad team. Go out to Minute Maid Park in September with no hope and make your owner even richer this year. Come September 1st when rosters expand, you’ll also start seeing the first glimpse of the future Astros, the ones who just might take you back to the heights, the players you’ll adopt as your own just as you love Jose Altuve and Jason Castro now.
I’m not going to apologize or feel bad about my team being 14-2 against your team this year. I’m just going to look forward to two or three years from now when that 14-2 is 8-8 and there could be one big three-game series that will decide the AL West title. Now that’ll be fun. Oh, and thanks for sending us Travis Blackley.
- At least Siri likes the Astros (chron.com)
- Report: Astros on track to make $99 million this season (chron.com)
You know, I should be in a good mood right now. I’m supposed to be celebrating the fact that this dude here just broke the team record for most wins ever by a Texas Rangers manager:
I’m also supposed to be excited about Adrian Beltre, our intrepid 3rd baseman and clubhouse leader, was honored as the American League Player of the Month for July:
And I’m supposed to be ecstatic that the Rangers have shaved four games off the Oakland A’s lead in a span of just eight days to pull to within two of the AL West leaders.
Yeah, things are sure happy in Rangersland, don’t you think? But no, first you have to throw the Nelson Cruz 50-game suspension at me. Then, to add to the pain, word comes out today that Colby Lewis, expected to rejoin the Rangers rotation in maybe just a week’s time, has now been sidelined for the rest of the season with bone spurs on his hip. The man went down in the stretch run a year ago and has busted his butt all season long to recover from an arm injury. He rehabbed early in the season and had to be shut down in early May with arm soreness. He started rehab outings again about three weeks ago and was probably just one rehab start away from making his season début for the Rangers and what happens? An injury unrelated to the arm. Bone spurs on the hip.
The immediate beneficiaries here are Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez. For Ogando, it means at least another three weeks in the Rangers rotation, as it was likely Lewis would have supplanted him next week. Now he appears safe until Matt Harrison returns next, around the end of the month. For Perez, it’s a permanent win. The rookie southpaw has been pitching very well of late. Lewis being down for the season means Perez will remain with the parent club as a starter for the remainder of this season and on into the future.
I feel for Colby. The Rangers did him a solid by re-signing him in the off-season, knowing he wouldn’t be available until at least mid-season. They did this to thank him for the efforts that led to two World Series appearances in two years. It was just a one year contract, though, Just as it’s possible Nelson Cruz has played his last game as a member of the Rangers, so too is it possible Colby Lewis will never throw a pitch for the Rangers again. I suspect that’s not true, as Jon Daniels can almost certainly sign Lewis yet again to a one year deal at a price that is definitely favorable to the Business Office, but it’s not a certainty.
Colby Lewis started and won some of the most important games in Texas Rangers history: He beat the Yankees twice in the 2010 ALCS. He was credited with the W in the Rangers’ only 2010 World Series win. He tossed six innings of 1-hit ball in a win against the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2011 ALDS. And while he didn’t earn any decisions, Lewis had a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals in the 2011 World Series. Game 2 went the Rangers way, Game 6 should have.
Colby, if you never again wear a Rangers uniform, know that I, as well as thousands if not millions of Rangers fans, thank you for everything you’ve done for this franchise. The Rangers wouldn’t have gone as far as they did without you and that’s the truth.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 3-4
Overall: 54-41 (2nd Place AL West) (-2)
Adrian Beltre ..407/.467/.778 1 2b, 3 HR and 8 RBI
A.J. Pierzynski .375/.385/.625 3 2b, 1 HR and 5 RBI
Leonys Martin .150/.292/.150
David Murphy .174/.208/.217
Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):
Derek Holland 2-0, 2.63 ERA 14 K in 13.2 IP
Raspa Frio (Pitching):
Justin Grimm 0-1, 18.90 ERA
The All-Star Break couldn’t get here fast enough. The Rangers hobbled into the break with a starting rotation of Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Josh Lindblom, Justin Grimm and Ross Wolf. Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis are all on the DL and they were even joined by rookie Nick Tepesch. When you look at the rotation as it is comprised, it is amazing to even conceive of Texas being 13 games over .500 at the break. A mediocre 3-4 is not that great a week, but considering the Rangers were on the road the entire week against the Orioles and the Tigers, 3-4 wouldn’t be bad even with the starting pitchers we’d expect. One of the three wins was pinning Max Scherzer with his first loss after he started the season 13-0.
As for when the starters return, it might not be this week but next week. Yu Darvish may be back this weekend for the home series with the Orioles. Alexi Ogando is expected back next week, but whether that means he’ll start one of the games against the Yankees or be held back until the Indians series is unknown. How much can be expected of Ogando is also unknown. His first two rehab starts in the minors have not gone that well. Colby Lewis finally starts rehab appearances again next week and could be a month away.
While I was out on vacation, the bullpen got a jolt with the return of Joakim Soria, who’s thrown three shutout innings in his first 3 appearances. Meanwhile, the non-names of Cory Burns, Joseph Ortiz and Wilmer Font threw enough quality relief innings to give overworked Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Neal Cotts a break.
The Rangers’ offense continues its inconsistent ways. Were it not for the injury to Jeff Baker, David Murphy would probably be a platoon player. Elvis Andrus was dropped in the order and now Ron Washington is giving Leonys Martin a shot at the 2-slot in the line-up. Texas needs help in the rotation and in the offensive line-up. It will be interesting to see what moves Jon Daniels makes in the next two weeks leading up to the trade deadline. For now, the team gets three much-needed days off.
For the past three years, Texas Rangers fans were spoiled. During the 2010 and 2011 trips to the World Series and the disappointing 2012 season that ended in a 1-game playoff with the Baltimore Orioles, we have seen pretty much superb baseball. The offensive line-up, featuring Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero and Adrian Beltre was lethal, putting up over five runs a game on average. The starting pitching was workmanlike, with Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando and Yu Darvish last year, with a late season assist one year from Cliff Lee got the lead to the bullpen, where such notables as Neftali Feliz, Frank Francisco, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Joe Nathan were more than capable of shutting things down. Texas had so many ways to beat you, it was clear you weren’t going to keep them down for long.
Which brings us to 2013. Hamilton, Young and Napoli are gone from the offense. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz have yet to throw a pitch in a major league game. Matt Harrison got shelved after three ineffective starts. Alexi Ogando has hit the disabled list twice. The bullpen has dealt with woeful performances from Michael Kirkman, Derek Lowe, Joseph Ortiz and Kyle McClellan. Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch were not supposed to start meaningful major league games in 2013 and the rookie who was, Martin Perez, is just now beginning to help the club.
Defensively, Adrian Beltre has actually shown some signs of losing a fraction of a step. Beltre has actually committed two more errors at third base than Michael Young (8 to 6), although Beltre has gotten to a lot more balls than Young in the first place. Ian Kinsler missed substantial time on the DL, as did Mitch Moreland. David Murphy has had an awful year, entering July hitting below .220. Elvis Andrus hasn’t been much better, checking into July below .250 and, while always a bit of a light hitter, has seen a large decrease in his extra base hit numbers. Of the new arrivals, Lance Berkman has performed considerably below expectations, A.J. Pierzynski spent some time on the DL and shown little ability to throw out opposing baserunners. Jeff Baker was a godsend until he was high-fived in the dugout by an unnamed teammate, bending his thumb back and putting him on the list of walking wounded on the DL.
No, things have not gone much the Texas Rangers way. Even Yu Darvish, while looking like an ace in many respects, went a month and a half without a win. The bullpen suffers from overwork, with four relievers logging at least 13 appearances in the month of June. Yet here we are, at the end of June, and the Texas Rangers continue to hold on to first place in the AL West, a half game ahead of the defending champ Oakland A’s.
They’ve done it with a good year from Nelson Cruz and a lot of small ball from the likes of Jurickson Profar, Leonys Martin and now rookie Engel Beltre. Some nights the bottom of the line-up is outproducing the heart of the order. They’re doing it because Tepesch and Grimm, while performing at or below average, are keeping the team in games long enough for the bullpen to take over. The back of the bullpen has been solid, with Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Neal Cotts and Joe Nathan closing the door on most rallies.
The month of June ends with Texas sporting a mark of 48-34. That’s the same record the 2010 World Series team had at the same point, 5 games better than the 2011 World Series team and only 2 games worse than last year’s Wild Card team. Despite a bad start to the month of June, the Rangers went 14-14 on the month and closed out going 3-1 against Oakland, 3-0 against St. Louis (on the road), 2-1 at Yankee Stadium and 2-1 against the Cincinnati Reds. That’s a combined 10-3 against four over .500 teams, three of whom are at or near the top of the Power Rankings.
The first three months have been bright for the Rangers and there’s help on the way without even going to the trade market. Joakim Soria could boost the bullpen as soon as next weekend. Colby Lewis could be ready in late July. Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz are targeting August for their returns. Baker should give a boost to the bench in another week or so. With the July trade deadline coming up, the Rangers will be among the teams most talked about for both starting pitching and offense.
I don’t know if the Rangers can keep this pace up. It’s such a different team, struggling to score runs one night, pitching challenged the next. I do know this. With all this team has gone through in 2013, if they end up winning the West despite all the departures and injuries, Ron Washington will deserve serious consideration for AL Manager of the Year.
- These Kids Today… (40yearrangerfan.mlblogs.com)
- Ogando, Lewis making strides in rehab (mlb.mlb.com)
- The Texas Rangers Take Another Series from a Good Team (rattleandhumsports.com)
You’ve heard the saying “You can never have enough pitching.”? For proof, just check out the Texas Rangers right now.
Going into Spring Training, here’s what was known about the Rangers’ starting rotation. It would be Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and an unknown 5th starter, with rookie Martin Perez being the favorite.
This lasted until early in Spring Training, when Perez took a line drive off his pitching arm, breaking it and sending him to the DL. He is currently rehabbing at AAA Round Rock.
As the spring progressed, other 5th starter candidates began dropping out. Kyle McClellan got injured, Justin Grimm was ineffective, long-shot Cody Buckel totally lost any command of the strike zone (and still hasn’t). By the end of the spring, rookie Nick Tepesch had earned the #5 spot, easily outdistancing his rivals.
This pitching line-up lasted for all of two turns through the rotation. Tepesch hadn’t even had his first start when Harrison hit the DL with back problems. He’s had two surgeries since and probably won’t return until August.
Tepesch performed well in his first start and found himself promoted to #4 starter with Harrison’s injury. Justin Grimm was recalled from Round Rock to replace Harry.
A week ago, Alexi Ogando became the second Rangers starter to go down. While his injury isn’t serious, Texas decided to play it safe and put Ogando on the 15-day DL. Having a 6-game lead makes it easy to decide on the side of safety. So now the rotation became Darvish, Holland, Tepesch (rookie), Grimm (rookie) and now Josh Lindblom. Lindblom was acquired from the Phillies in the Michael Young trade, but was primarily a reliever until, knowing he hadn’t made the club out of Spring Training, asked the front office if he could try being a starter at Round Rock. The Rangers agreed, Lindblom did well and got the call to pitch last night’s game against the A’s. He didn’t pitch well.
Lindblom was optioned back to Round Rock after the game, but he could be back Monday for a twin bill start against the Diamondbacks.
Now Nick Tepesch has developed a blister on one of his pitching fingers and is going to miss his start against the A’s tomorrow. In his place will be Ross Wolf, an off-season sign who was merely expected to be filler on the Round Rock staff, never an option on the major league level.
Now the Rangers rotation consists of Darvish, Holland, Grimm, Wolf and Lindblom. If you want to rate them on a 1-5 scale, in essence the Texas rotation consists of a #1, a #3, a #6, a #8 and Wolf at best is a #10.
There’s never been a better time for the Rangers offense to make themselves known consistently.
This year’s promotional campaign for Texas is “Hello Win Column!”, the tag line that used to accompany every Rangers win when the late Mark Holtz was the radio voice of the Rangers. In conjunction with the theme, the Rangers this year are running a series of promos that ask, “What did YOU do to help the Rangers win?” The first promo includes two guys saying they dropped Matt Harrison and Adrian Beltre from their respective fantasy teams. That explains the Harrison complete game and Beltre game-winning home run.
I would like to nominate myself for the next “What did YOU do…” promo for the role I played in Monday night’s Rangers win over the Los Angeles Angels. What did I do? I stayed true to this year’s promise of being an old man and not staying up for the whole game when Texas plays on the West Coast. I turned in for the night right after the Angels blew it open with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-3 lead on Texas. What happened after I retired? Texas just went and scored three runs in the top of the seventh. Capping off the comeback, Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski did this to Ernesto Frieri in the top of the 9th:
Joe Nathan took care of business in the bottom of the 9th and “HELLO WIN COLUMN!”
Rangers officials, you can reach me here or on Twitter (@RangersBlogger) and we can set up a date for me to shoot the next promo. You’re welcome.
15 games in. If it hadn’t been for Wednesday’s rain-out, we’d officially be at the 10% point of the season. We all know individual statistics are pretty meaningless this early in the season. But, if you look at the team as a whole, is there anything we can discern from the season’s first 15-16 games? I think it’s possible.
Take my Texas Rangers for example. A year ago, the Rangers had scored 91 runs over the first 15 games. In 2013, 15 games have netted Texas a mere 55 runs. On the other side of the coin, the Rangers have given up 47 runs so far, compared to only 40 runs allowed over the first 15 games a year ago.
Taking it a step further, Texas scored their 91 runs last year while facing Detroit, Boston, Minnesota, Seattle and the Chicago White Sox. This year, 55 runs have been scored against Houston, the LA Angels, Seattle, Tampa Bay and the Chicago Cubs. This is why the early season returns concern me. The Rangers scored more runs and gave up less runs in the first 15 games a year ago while facing overall superior competition than they have faced thus far in 2013.
We knew the Texas Rangers were going to have a harder time scoring runs in 2013 than they did a year ago. You don’t lose the likes of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and, to a lesser extent, Michael Young, without that having some effect on your offensive line-up. Making matters worse is, with the exception of Ian Kinsler, just about every regular from last year’s line-up is off to a slow start this year. Elvis Andrus is at .224, Adrian Beltre .232, David Murphy is hitting .151, Mitch Moreland .163 and Craig Gentry is at .227. Nelson Cruz is at .298 but hasn’t been hitting for a lot of power so far. Outside of Kinsler, the best hitters in the Rangers’ line-up has actually been their two newcomers, Lance Berkman (.389) and A.J. Pierzynski (.289).
Keeping an optimistic tone, I haven’t seen any discernible differences in the way people are pitching to Beltre and Cruz now that pitchers don’t have to worry about Hamilton too. So there is hope the offense will be better than what they’ve shown so far. Overall, though, this is not a team that will be bashing a lot of teams this year. In the past three years, Rangers fans have come to expect their team to knock out a lot of starting pitchers before the sixth inning. Over the first 15 games this season, at best the Rangers have only “knocked out” two starting pitchers with their offense. Opposition starters have given up more than 3 runs to the Rangers only three times in the year’s first 15 games.
Texas pitching has thus far come close to matching the hot start of 2012, but storm clouds are already on the horizon. Matt Harrison is on the disabled list and his back has not been responding to treatment. No team can do without their #2 pitcher for any great length of time, especially when combined with a sputtering offense. Alexi Ogando has had problem with his command in each of his first three starts, Yu Darvish has been bothered by a blister in his last two starts and 40% of the starting rotation are rookies in Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm.
The restructured relief corps has performed overall better than expected. Rookie Joe Ortiz has been tough as nails and picked up two wins along the way. Tanner Scheppers looks ready to make the next step. Derek Lowe and Michael Kirkman don’t exactly fill Rangers fans with confidence but they’ve mostly gotten the job done as we wait for the return of Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz from injuries.
At 9-6, I’m not unhappy with the overall record so far, but I do have concerns. If the offense doesn’t pick it up and if Matt Harrison is out for a significant period of time, this is going to be a challenging season in Texas.
- Texas Rangers Wind up with Split Against Cubs (rattleandhumsports.com)
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 4-2
Overall: 4-2 (2nd Place AL West) (-0.5)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Lance Berkman .450/.542/.750 1 HR 5 RBI 4 BB
Ian Kinsler .333/.407/.708 3 HR 8 RBI
Raspa Cold (Offense): Mitch Moreland .095/.130/.238
Leonys Martin .077/.200/.077
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching):Yu Darvish 2-0, 1.98 ERA 20 K in 13.2 IP
Alexi Ogando 1-0, 0.00 ERA 10 K in 6.1 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Matt Harrison 0-2, 8.44 ERA 1.97 WHIP
All in all, a decent start to the season at 4-2, yet areas of concern are already popping up. Matt Harrison has not had a good start to the season. The Rangers are not going to contend in the AL West without Harrison at least staying consistent with what he’s done the past two seasons. Harry hasn’t been able to get his fastball down. Without that sinking heater, he can’t induce the ground balls and double plays he’s known for.
On the other hand, Yu Darvish has had an outstanding start, coming within one out of perfection in his first game and gritting through five innings with blister problems against the Angels in picking up the win his second time out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Look for Darvish to be a Cy Young Award contender in 2013.
The newly built bullpen is a work in progress, hoping to do a decent enough job while waiting for Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz to return from injuries. What isn’t said is they need to come back from injuries and be as effective as they once were, which is no guarantee. Of the newcomers over the first week, Jason Frasor and Derek Lowe were busts, rookie Joe Ortiz was mediocre. Of the returnees, Robbie Ross was unscored on but hittable while Michael Kirkman and Tanner Scheppers showed they might be credible set-up men to Joe Nathan until Soria and Feliz are ready.
This week, Texas has three at home against the Rays before hitting the road for four in Seattle. Rookie Nick Tepesch will make his major league debut on Tuesday.