The Rangers struggles as of late have really brought down the fanbase. Twitter is constantly buzzing with some quip about how the Rangers will lose on this day. Fans are disgruntled because they want to see their team win, and winning has been difficult. Among all this negativity and the miserable baseball games, there have been some bright spots. Let’s shine a light on what hasn’t made everyone miserable in the back half of the season since the All-Star break.
This one may hurt, since last night’s blown save is still on our minds, but Joe Nathan has been incredible this season. While his numbers for the first half of the season were better, the back half has also been incredible. For the season as a whole, his ERA- is 34. ERA- is on a scale where 100 is average, and the lower the better. In the second half, he has recorded a 1.59 ERA, with only 3 earned runs in 17 innings and a K/9 of 10.59. Batters are hitting just .206 off him. Nathan’s struggles come from walks. His walk rate has elevated in the second half (and in this season in general), but overall, he’s been doing his job well.

Nelson Cruz was suspended for the rest of the regular season, and the Rangers responded with Alex Rios. He’s batting .289/.329/.444 in just 34 games as a Texas Ranger. His OPS+ is 109, which is also on a scale where 100 is average, but this time the higher the better. He’s already acquired an fWAR of 0.7, which is good for ninth among Rangers position players, and only two behind Cruz. Nelson Cruz’s power is hard to replace, and Rios doesn’t hit near as many homeruns as Cruz, but his defense and baserunning skills are significantly better. Rios has not been a disappointment.

Craig Gentry has been designated to the bench since Leonys Martin has shown enough to become an everyday player. However, with the acknowledgment of David Murphy’s struggles, he’s seen some playing time in left field against LHP. In the back half of this season, he’s quietly been a strong player. In 110 plate appearances, he’s batting .286/.394/.407. He has a very low K rate (10.0%) and a high BB rate (10.9%). He’s been far better than Murphy, and having him on the bench really helps. He gets on base, he’s a threat on the basepaths, and his defense is good.

My final bright and shiny spot on the field for the Texas Rangers is none other than Yu Darvish. There has been so much criticism of him recently, and it’s completely unwarranted. Just in the back half of this season, Darvish has pitched 72.1 innings with a 2.42 ERA. He strikes out batters at an insane rate with 11.99 K/9. Batters he’s faced have only hit .184 off him and getting on base at .266. His 9.3% walk rate is what has gotten him into the most trouble. Since the All-Star break, Darvish has started 11 games, and in 8 of those games, the Rangers have scored 3 runs or less behind him. His win-loss record does not reflect how truly phenomenal this 27-year old pitcher has been for your Texas Rangers.

Of course these aren’t the only great things about the second half. Elvis found his groove again. Adrian Beltre has been good for most of the season until a bit of a slump recently. There have been some great bullpen pieces, and pitching overall has held this team together. The wins might not be coming at a rapid pace, but this team has some instrumental players who can make a difference. If they finally get everyone clicking again at the same time, they’ll still be dangerous in the postseason. Until then just know that even in the worst times, there is always something good happening.
Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach her at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or  on Twitter at @EmLikesBaseball.
Emily Cates

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