Series Preview: Rangers at A’s
Much like their previous series with the A’s, the Rangers are facing an all-important set of three games after their weekend shenanigans in Seattle. The Rangers, on the tail end of a 9 day, 9 game west coast trip, are facing the A’s for the second time in a row after getting swept by their previous opponent. Once again, Ranger nation panic is billowing beneath the surface and once again all the talk centers on the bullpen and what to do with closer Sam Dyson. There is no getting around the fact that the Ranger’s bullpen is a mess and there are no quick fixes for it either. While Ranger’s manager Jeff Banister has taken a brunt of the heat for the Dyson debacle this time around, the fact remains that Banny doesn’t necessarily have many options.
Unfortunately in baseball you don’t always get enough time to lick your wounds and for the Rangers on Monday that is the case. There is no time to sit around and sulk. There is no time to come up with a magic potion to fix what ails them. The Rangers simply have to keep playing. That’s what they will do starting tonight against the A’s, so let’s take a look at what to watch for in this once again significant series.
A’s: 5-7 – 3rd in AL West
Rangers: 4-8 – 5th in AL West
Rangers projected starters:
Athletics projected starters:
Rangers’ pitcher to watch:
Yu Darvish: The Texas Rangers need their starting pitchers to step up in this series. Yu Darvish is their best pitcher, their ace. He needs to step up and perform at a high level on Tuesday night and if he does so, it will buck a disturbing trend that has followed Darvish since he first joined the Rangers in 2012. Darvish simply can’t handle the A’s. There are always anomalies in baseball and Yu Darvish versus the A’s should be exhibit A. Let’s take a look at the numbers and what Darvish will be up against Tuesday night.
In his career versus the A’s, Darvish is 3-10 in 15 starts with a 4.43 ERA and a WHIP of 1.399. Darvish strike outs per nine innings are also lower than his career average versus the A’s at 10.7 while his walks are up at 4.34. If that isn’t concerning enough, at the O.co Coliseum, Darvish record is 1-3 with an ERA of 5.72 and a WHIP of 1.800. His strike-outs go down even further at the Coliseum to 9.8 while his walks per nine innings balloon all the way up to 7. Obviously when you look at these numbers, it’s pretty unsettling. Given the Rangers performance the past three days, it may even induce a bit of pre-series panic. That’s completely fair. The good news, however, is that in Darvish’s previous two starts against the A’s, he has pitched quite well.
In Darvish final start against the A’s in 2016 at the O.co Coliseum, Darvish pitched 7 scoreless innings with 9 strikeouts and just 1 walk, earning the win. In his lone start against the A’s this season, Darvish again pitched well, going six strong innings while giving up just 1 run. The Rangers need this Yu Darvish to show up against the A’s in this series. They need him to continue to erase his terrible past against this team and to provide a shot of much needed positivity into this fan base. We will find out the result on Tuesday, and for all of our sake, let’s hope it’s a good one.
A’s pitcher to watch:
Jharel Cotton: Cotton gets the nod for the Athletics opposite A.J. Griffin tonight in a game the Rangers desperately need to win. Unfortunately they will be facing A’s youngster Jharel Cotton who is coming off a masterful performance against the Kansas City Royals. Cotton is also the type of young Oakland pitcher that the Rangers seem to struggle with. In his lone start against the Rangers last season, Cotton pitched 7 innings, giving up just one run with 5 strike outs and 0 walks. The saving grace here for the Rangers is that his start came two days after the Rangers had clinched the AL West meaning several Rangers regulars did not face him. Cotton is not a large intimidating pitcher and he’s not overpowering either. Throwing from the right side, he features a fastball that sits around 92mph and a change-up that comes in around 78mph. Cotton is still extremely new to pitching in the Majors and hopefully that will work in the Rangers favor. This will also be there second time to face the young A’s righty however many Rangers hitters will be facing him for the first time.
Ranger’s hitter to watch:
Shin Soo Choo: Choo had his best day of the year at the plate on Sunday, with a home run, double and 5 RBI’s. After an extremely slow start, Choo has been very quietly rounding into form. In his past three games overall, Choo has 4 hits and 6 RBI’s and has gotten on base a total of 5 times. Choo, serving as the primary DH for Texas is a key cog in their line-up. His specialty is getting on base and he also has a surprising amount of power. The Rangers need Choo’s upward trend to continue as their offense has struggled at times this year. One of their biggest struggles has simply been getting runners on base. With that being his specialty, Choo needs to come through.
A’s hitter to watch:
Khris Davis: We are just going to leave him in this spot until he stops creaming the Rangers. Here is what we had to say about him before the previous series:
Davis absolutely torched the Rangers in 2016. In 18 games Davis hit .328 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI’s. Davis also scored 16 runs in those 18 games which helped contribute to Oakland’s record of 9-10 versus the Rangers which is respectable considering where both teams finished in the standings.
Well Davis has continued that trend versus the Rangers so far this year. In their first series, Davis had a home run and a double, all part of a four hit effort in the series. Overall this year Davis has been on a tear, batting .340 with 6 home runs which is tied for first in all of baseball. The Rangers will have to find a way to limit the damage he does against them in order to win this series.
Rangers: Chi Chi Gonzalez, Tanner Scheppers, Tyson Ross, Brett Nicholas, Hanser Alberto, Adrian Beltre, Jake Diekman, Prince Fielder
Game Times: All Central Time