Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’
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.
I remember the day of the Challenger disaster back in the 1980′s. All work came to an end for me that day as I followed the reports and we mourned the loss of Christa McAulliffe, who was to be the first civilian in space. I remember 2000, when my workday began with my friend in the next office telling me a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I went to the break room, which had a TV in it, and watched in horror live as the second plane hit the second tower. I remember just a mere three weeks ago when makeshift bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, followed later that evening by a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Now I’m going to remember the path of destruction left by a massive tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, the second such disaster that town has gone through in 14 years.
For four seasons now, I have blogged about my love of the Texas Rangers. I’ve gone through the highs of my team getting into the World Series for the first time to the lows of twice being one strike away from the ultimate goal only to fall short. Today, I probably would have written a short article praising Jurickson Profar‘s 2013 debut in a Rangers uniform and the terrible job the entire Rangers pitching staff did against the Oakland A’s last night. But I can’t. Not today.
The last five weeks have taken a toll on us all. Boston Marathon. West, Texas. Granbury, Texas. And now Moore, Oklahoma. Add in the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary in December and Hurricane Sandy in October and it becomes so incredibly hard to bear. So much destruction and loss of life, some of it by senseless acts of violence, others by terrifying acts of nature. As much as I love baseball in general and the Rangers in particular, seeing this latest tragedy puts fun and games into perspective. At least 51 people have died in this latest disaster, as many as 20 of them children. I’m sure many of the dead were baseball fans, maybe even fans of the Rangers, since the Texas AAA club was, until just a few years ago, in nearby Oklahoma City. That doesn’t really matter, though. It might help us remember these total strangers but it doesn’t alter the fact of their fate.
Meanwhile there are hundreds and probably thousands of people who survived the storm but have lost everything to it. Their homes. Their possessions. Their family pictures. Little knick knacks that wouldn’t mean a thing to you and me but have sentimental meaning to them. For them, the horror is just beginning. They probably won’t collect full compensation on home insurance policies because of “Acts of God” exceptions. They’ll never fully recover from their loss.
I take this space today to ask you, implore you, beg of you to do anything you can to help. Donate money and goods to the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, any reputable national organization that provides relief during disasters. That’s the American Way, as American as baseball.
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: 5-2
Overall: 29-15 (1st Place AL West) (+6.5)
Mitch Moreland .308/.345/.846 2 Doubles 4 HR 10 RBI
Adrian Beltre .448/.500/.655 3 Doubles 1 HR 5 RBI
Ian Kinsler .125/.263/.125 And he hit the Disabled List to boot.
Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):
Joe (Call Me Joseph) Ortiz 3 IP 1 Hit 3 K’s
Raspa Frio (Pitching):
Derek Lowe 2/3 IP 2 Runs (could be DFA’d today)
Last week I said a 3-4 record would be satisfactory with Texas at Oakland for 3 and home for a 4-game set against Detroit. Color me ecstatic today with the Rangers’ 5-2 record for the week. What made the weekend series with the Tigers so unique is the guys you expect to be the best pitchers, Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, both struggled against the vaunted Detroit offense, while the two we expected to get shelled, Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm, both pitched well, though Tepesch was the loser of record in his start.
Just to show how weird baseball is, though: Texas entered the week with a 6-game lead on Oakland, took 2 of 3 from the A’s followed by 3 of 4 from Detroit and only managed to put another half game of ground between the second place A’s and themselves.
This week begins with three more against Oakland, this time in the friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. After an off day Thursday, it’s off to Seattle for three against the improved Mariners.
Two DL moves in the last week as well. Alexi Ogando went on the DL Thursday. Cody Burns got the call from AAA Round Rock and pitched two games in relief this weekend, but Ogando’s official replacement is Josh Lindblom, acquired in the Michael Young trade, who starts tonight’s series opener against the A’s. Texas will have to make a move today and the popular opinion is that veteran Derek Lowe will get released, since Burns did so well in his first two games. Meanwhile, Ian Kinsler hit the DL on Saturday, with the roster opening taken by #1 prospect Jurickson Profar. Profar didn’t play in Sunday’s series finale against Detroit, but expect him at second base tonight and for most of Kinsler’s DL stay. Should be an interesting week of baseball!
The pitching match-up of the year didn’t materialize as the pitcher’s duel of the year. It was actually Justin Verlander‘s worst regular season start. EVER. You can thank the Texas Rangers offense for that, particularly Mitch Moreland and, in the biggest surprise of the season, Geovany Soto, whose 3-run blast to left spelled the end of Verlander’s night.
Scintillating as the offense was, last night’s win cemented yet another incredible aspect in the game of Yu Darvish. If it had only happened once, I would shake it off as one of those things that happens. This, however, was not the first time it has happened and I have a feeling it will be integral in understanding the current and future success of the Rangers’ new ace.
Darvish did not have his best stuff last night. His fastball command was almost non-existent. Most of his other pitches were having a hard time finding the zone as well. Through the early innings, about the only pitch Darvish had working for him was his slider. Thus, it wasn’t surprising when he finally ran into trouble in the 3rd inning. Facing the bottom of the order, Darvish gave up his first hit, a home run that tied the game at 1. It was followed by a single. Then another single. A wild pitch. A sacrifice fly put the Tigers up 2-1. Miguel Cabrera doubled and Darvish intentionally walked Prince Fielder. Bases loaded. One out. A Victor Martinez sac fly on the 10th pitch of the at bat put Detroit up 3-1. Darvish was on the ropes, already at 31 pitches on the inning. It would take another five pitches before the inning ended. Darvish was already at 63 pitches in only three innings of work. It was looking like a bullpen kind of night.
Despite the Rangers heroics in the bottom of the frame, chasing Verlander with a 7-spot to take an 8-4 lead, Darvish came out in the 4th and immediately gave up his second home run of the night, this one to Jhonny Peralta, making it 8-4. That’s when it kicked in.
From that point on, Darvish retired 15 of the next 16 batters, including the last 10 Tigers in a row. Yu ended up going a career high 130 pitches over 8 innings in picking up his 7th win of the season.
Most pitchers, even quality ones, have games in which they struggle. Most of the time, it will be a struggle from beginning to end. On a rare occasion, they’ll recover and pitch effectively after their bad inning(s). This is the third similar occurrence in Darvish’s young career. On June 20, 2012 he was quickly down 2-0 in the second, expending 41 pitches to get through the two innings. From that point on, Darvish retired 18 of the last 21 Padres he faced including the last ten in a row.
On April 12th this year, the Mariners touched Darvish for 3 runs in the first inning. After the first? Fifteen of 17 Mariners were retired, including the last 12 in a row.
Less than two weeks ago, the Red Sox plated three runs in the first two innings. After a second inning home run, Darvish retired 17 of the last 20 Boston batters he faced, only one of them getting a hit.
Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, Darvish seems to have an innate ability to figure out within a game how to proceed based on how his pitches are working or not working. In this case he switched from setting everything up through his fastball to setting it up through his slider. There are few pitchers out there who can achieve such dramatic results on in-game adjustments. I’m just glad one who can pitches for the Texas Rangers.
Rangers Ballpark In Arlington is a mere 8-hour drive from my front door, so you’ll forgive me if I’m not seen at a Rangers home game more than a few times a year. In fact, it’s now been over a year since I saw my last Rangers game live. Yes, I sometimes feel sorry for myself but fortunately, the Astros’ games are no longer on Fox Sports Southwest, so I can pretty much watch any Rangers game on TV save for the Friday night games which are only shown locally in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
What I’m trying to say here is I won’t be at RBiA tonight to see the opener of the Texas Rangers and the defending American League Champion Detroit Tigers. I live too far away, I don’t have enough scratch to make the trip and there have been no wealthy benefactors offering to pay my way there.
Here’s what I can’t understand, though. This isn’t just the first game matching up the last two American League Champions. It is also a match-up of two of the best starting pitchers playing in the game today. Yu Darvish vs. Justin Verlander. One’s a Cy Young Award winner, the other is pitching like he wants the CYA this year.
As much of a Rangers fan as I am, I also know I cannot watch each and every game of the season. Besides the aforementioned Friday night games, this year I’m now forced to accept my age and retire for the night before a West Coast game can reach its conclusion. Family and work responsibilities get in the way of a number of other games. Believe it or not, sometimes I’d rather just watch something else on the tube instead of the Rangers game.
There is, however, a time when I will move heaven and earth to make sure I get to see my beloved Rangers play, and that is a game in which Yu Darvish takes the mound for Texas. It has literally been almost 20 years since a Rangers pitcher has compelled me to watch a game whenever he took the mound. The last pitcher from so long ago? Nolan Ryan.
Over the years, Texas Rangers baseball has been appointment viewing for me because of hitters like Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Josh Hamilton, even Pete Incaviglia for a short while. A pitcher? Only twice. Ryan and now Darvish. Had I lived in Texas back then, perhaps Fergie Jenkins might have elicited a reaction as well.
The variety of Darvish’s pitching repertoire, the movement he has on some of his pitches and the prodigious number of strikeouts makes Darvish appointment television for me all of 400+ miles away from the site it’s occurring in. Then, when you add Justin Verlander to the equation as the opponent on the mound, this is a must-see event only slightly below a playoff game in importance.
I say this because, as of this writing, tonight’s Darvish-Verlander match-up is shaping up to have the lowest attendance of any game in the 4-game set. I know it’s the only game of the four not being played on the weekend, but for goodness sake, IT’S DARVISH AGAINST VERLANDER!!! I’d let my kids and grandkids miss school the next day to see a pitching match-up like this. If it were a day game and I were a teacher, I’d set up a TV in my classroom to let my students see it. If my wife threatened to leave me tonight, I might even consider asking her to wait a couple of hours so we can talk about it after the game (I really wouldn’t, but you get my point).
Darvish vs. Verlander and as of lunchtime today, there were almost 10,000 tickets still available for the game. Is the American Idol finale really THAT important??? I guess fans don’t care about pitching match-ups as much as they used to. What a shame, because this could be one of the better games any fan could see this season.
- Preview: Tigers at Rangers (wyff4.com)
- PODCAST: Yu Darvish vs Justin Verlander tonight in Arlington as the Texas Rangers face the Detroit Tigers (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Darvish, Verlander Set For Showdown Thursday (dfw.cbslocal.com)
I’ll start this out by saying what I’ve said in these pages many a time before: I’m NOT a major proponent of WAR. I understand the concept of it, I just don’t totally agree with it because of the subjectivity of the defensive metrics. I don’t “speak” sabermetrics, but a great sabermetric argument for the way I feel was published today, as a free article, on Baseball Prospectus.
A way I can use WAR, though, would be as a comparison tool that doesn’t involve delving into a lot of different stats. I thought it would be interesting to see, at the 1/4 point of the season, how the Texas Rangers might look, record-wise, had they decided to keep everyone from last year’s Rangers team, instead of adding the pieces they added. To do that, I examined the respective WAR of the departed Rangers to their counterparts from this year’s team.
For this study, I’m using essentially the Texas Rangers team that essentially comprised the Rangers following the July 31st trading deadline.
Here’s how the former Rangers are faring so far in 2013, based on bWAR (via Baseball Reference.com):
Mike Adams (Philadelphia) 0.4
Ryan Dempster (Boston) 0.5
Scott Feldman (Chicago Cubs) 0.8
Josh Hamilton (Los Angeles Angels) -0.6
Mark Lowe (Los Angeles Angels) -0.3
Mike Napoli (Boston) 1.0
Koji Uehara (Boston) 0.5
Michael Young (Philadelphia) 0.3
Now let’s look at this year’s Texas Rangers counterparts:
Jeff Baker 0.7
Lance Berkman 0.6
Jason Frasor 0.0
Leury Garcia 0.1
Derek Lowe 0.0
Leonys Martin 0.7
Joe Ortiz 0.0
A.J. Pierzynski 0.6
Nick Tepesch 0.0
The two biggest things that jump out at me: Leonys Martin‘s defense (the subjective part) has led to a much higher WAR figure than I thought, while, of the former Rangers, Ryan Dempster and Scott Feldman have both far exceeded what I most Rangers fans would have expected of them. Overall, the former Rangers out-WAR the current Rangers, but only by .2. If you’d like to extrapolate that to an actual record, WAR suggests the Rangers would be just where they are, at 24-14 or maybe one game better at 25-13, had they just stood pat with last year’s team. Of course, they’d have that record for a significantly higher payroll than they currently have, which would be a discussion for another day.
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: 24-13 (1st Place AL West) (+6)
Mitch Moreland .333/.385/.750 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR
Elvis Andrus .385/.448/.468
Nelson Cruz .150/.143/.450 Despite only three hits in 20 AB’s, two of the hits left the park. Thus the high Slugging Percentage
Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):
Derek Holland 1-0 1.29 ERA
Raspa Frio (Pitching):
Derek Lowe 2 Appearances, 6 ER in just 2 IP
Last week I said anything less than a 5-2 record would be a disappointment. The only disappointment is my addition. The Rangers only had six games scheduled in the week, not seven, so 5-2 was impossible. Instead, they went 4-2 and, incredibly, gained 3.5 games in the process on the second place A’s, who went 1-6 on the week.
You might say Texas has had an easy time of the first 37 games of the season, roughly 25% of the season to date. To date, Texas has played nine different teams. Of those nine, only three (Minnesota, Boston, Tampa Bay) start today with records at .500 or better. Of course, the Rangers are a combined 7-3 against those teams as well, so there’s that.
If storm clouds are going to begin appearing over the success that has been the Texas Rangers in 2013, they will start gathering in the next week and a half. Over the next ten days, Texas will be on the road for three games in Oakland, followed by a 7-game homestand featuring four games with the Tigers and another three games with the A’s. Oakland comes into this series under .500 themselves at 19-20. They have feasted on Houston and the Angels to a tune of 11-1. Against everyone else, the A’s are just 8-19. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the Oakland starting pitchers, one of the best in baseball a year ago, have struggled mightily in 2013. Still, Texas knows they’ll be facing the defending AL West champions for six of the next ten games, so they won’t take them lightly.
Thursday night will be a pitching match-up just about anyone who is a baseball fan will want to see, when the homestand kicks off with Yu Darvish squaring off against Justin Verlander. Can’t wait to watch that one on TV.
Being on the road at Oakland to start the week, I think I’ll be
happy satisfied if Texas goes 3-4 for the week. This will be a great week of baseball!
I should say it LOOKS like a mismatch. If I were the Rangers, though, I would approach it as anything BUT.
First, the games are on the road. Texas took two of three to open the season against Houston, but surprised many that it wasn’t three of three, let alone the Astros would win the season opener handily. Second, the Astros are coming off a near-sweep at home of the Los Angeles Angels, who may not be as good as most expected, but certainly not as bad as the team behind them in the standings. Still, the Angels lost two of the three games and only late-inning heroics kept them from heading out-of-town as the first team in 2013 swept by Houston. Third, anyone who has watched the Astros play this season says they may not have much talent, but manager Bo Porter has them hustling and playing heads-up baseball from beginning of the game to the end.
Last, but certainly not least, I looked at the pitching match-ups for this weekend and I have to applaud Porter for the way he’s looking at this series. Porter may not know the MLB rule book about pitcher substitutions, but he does know the only way to beat Texas is to attack their vulnerabilities. Thus, his first two starters this weekend. Tonight, Alexi Ogando goes for the Rangers against the Astros’ Dallas Kuechel. No, not because his first name is Dallas. Keuchel has a rather unremarkable MLB career stat line of 3-9 with a 5.22 ERA, including 0-1, 4.96 in 2013. Keuchel hasn’t started a game in 2013. Why is this a good move by Porter? Not only is Keuchel a lefthander, which the Rangers have not been handling well lately, but he also made one of his 16 starts in 2012 against Texas, where he went 5+ innings and gave up only one run.
On Saturday, Porter is following up by throwing Erik Bedard against Yu Darvish. Bedard has failed so spectacularly as a starter for the Astros, Porter moved him into the bullpen a couple weeks ago. Now, suddenly, here’s Bedard back in the rotation. Huh?
Porter knows Bedard has pretty much sucked this year: 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA. Oh yeah, except against the Rangers. Once again, Bedard is a lefty. He also faced Texas on Opening Day, throwing the last 3.1 innings to get the save in Houston’s shocking win. For his career, Bedard is a decent 5-4, 3.36 against the Rangers.
The Rangers could very well sweep the series against Houston, but I’ll grant the Astros this: their manager is putting them into the absolutely best position to win that he can.
The Rangers looked horrible against the lowly Chicago Cubs last night. Former Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman made Texas batters look silly and only the woeful Cubs bullpen prevented the Rangers from being shut out for the game.
As terrible as the Rangers looked, I can forgive them this game. Originally, the Rangers were to have Monday off, so they scheduled one of their big charity benefits for Sunday evening after the afternoon game with the Red Sox. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, a game with the Cubs got rained out a couple of weeks ago and Monday was chosen as the make-up date. Late flight out of Texas, late arrival in Chicago, tired team overall. I get that.
Except for Nick Tepesch. The rookie pitcher wasn’t part of the benefit. Since he was the scheduled starter, he got a head start in going to the Windy City. He had a good night’s sleep. He took the hill and had his worst start of his young career. Tepesch gave up a 5-spot in the fourth inning, putting his team down 6-0 and the Rangers never recovered.
Rookie pitchers are going to take their lumps, even rookies like Tepesch, whose first three starts were outstanding. Now, though, he’s started getting knocked around his last couple of times out. Why is this important?
There’s a guy getting started on rehab right now in Arizona by the name of Colby Lewis. It may still be more than a month away, but Lewis will be returning soon. When he does, someone is going to have to go, and that someone will be either Tepesch or Justin Grimm. As much as you’d like to just write it off as one (or two) bad starts, if you’re a GM like Jon Daniels, you’re looking at every start a player makes. Add in that this a team with playoff aspirations and you’re faced with a real “win or go home” attitude. Tepesch needs to step it up in his next couple of starts or he’s got a date with AAA Round Rock in his future. His competition to continue in the Rangers’ rotation, Justin Grimm, now has a leg up, as he hasn’t gotten pummeled yet. If he continues to pitch well, there’s little Tepesch can do to change the decision.
Yu Darvish ERA by Innings, 2013:
Translation: Get to Darvish in the first or don’t get him at all.
Here’s one I love- Yu’s Strikeout to walk ratio in leverage situations:
Low Leverage: 7.20
Medium Leverage: 2.89
High Leverage: 10.00
Translation: When things look their worst, Darvish is at his best.
Opponents Batting Average in Yu’s first 25 pitches is a pedestrian .382. After 25 pitches? A meager .111
At his current pace, Darvish would end 2013 with 349 Strikeouts. That would be the most since Randy Johnson K’d 372 in 2001 and would rank 6th in all-time season performance. It would also be in only 33 starts. The highest K total in 33 starts or less is currently Pedro Martinez, who struck out 313 batters in 31 starts in 1999.
The best single season strikeout per 9 innings pitcher was Randy Johnson’s 13.41 in 2001. Darvish is currently on a pace of 14.2 K/9.
In just 36 starts over the course of one season and a month, Darvish is already third on the Rangers’ all-time list for games with 10+ strikeouts with 12. In second is Bobby Witt, who accomplished the feat 24 times over 10 seasons. Nolan Ryan tops the list with 34 times over a 4-year stretch.
Translation: Yu Darvish is one impressive dude.
- Yu Darvish is striking out a lot of hitters (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- The best right-hander? Darvish is the man (espn.go.com)