West Coast woes continue as Rangers limp home
Right now, on April 19th, the Texas Rangers aren’t a good baseball team. That is a fact.
Now this doesn’t mean that all is lost. This is also doesn’t mean that they don’t have the potential to be a very good team. They just aren’t right now. On Wednesday afternoon the Rangers simply weren’t very good—in fact, if you were going to summarize the good in the game, it would look like this:
Joey Gallo hit a home run. That’s it.
Pretty much everything else.
If you rewind to the end of the 6th inning last night in Oakland, the Texas Rangers might as well have boarded their plane home right then. After Yu Darvish fell apart in the 6th Tuesday, giving up 4 runs, the Rangers went down meekly in 9 straight at-bats to end the game.
After Martin Perez fell apart in the first inning on Wednesday, allowing 4 runs, the Rangers again went meekly. In the ensuing 8 innings, the Rangers totaled just 3 hits and at no point showed any interest in getting back in the ball game. Even Jeff Banister getting himself ejected (on a play in which he had a definite beef) could not motivate the Rangers on this afternoon.
So the Rangers limp home after going 3-6 on their road trip, sporting a 5-10 record overall, and having won more games than just one team in all of baseball. Is it time to panic? Absolutely not.
It is time, though, to talk about the reality of the situation.
Pitching: AJ Griffin is the Rangers best starting pitcher right now.
In no way is this a slight to A.J. Griffin. He has been fantastic in his last two starts for the Rangers and the team has won all three games he has started this season. This is great news for the Rangers and for the man who was supposed to be fighting for a spot in the rotation this year.
The problem is, the Rangers have Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels on their team, and they simply haven’t been consistent. In the 7 games started by Hamels and Darvish, the Rangers are 1-6. Now, this isn’t all entirely their fault. Bullpen meltdowns have hurt this team tremendously and Hamels and Darvish have both been affected by it. Despite that, they are supposed to be the Rangers’ interchangeable ace. Two guys who can take the ball and dominate the other team more often than not. Darvish and Hamels have three very good starts between them out of seven, which simply hasn’t been good enough; the Rangers need more. It’s still early, and both these guys will more than likely have very successful seasons, but they need to go out and be aces in their next turns because the Rangers desperately need it.
Everyone knows the bullpen has struggled so we aren’t going to go into detail here—but in case you were wondering, after today’s game the bullpen ERA now sits at 6.05. The only saving grace here is that if you take Sam Dyson and Mike Hauschild out of the mix, the ERA sits in a much better spot, at 2.05. So if you are looking for a positive, that’s a strong one right there.
Hitting: Two-man shows don’t work in baseball.
When you look at the Rangers lineup, only two regulars are hitting above .222: Elvis Andrus is batting .300 and Nomar Mazara is batting .306. You simply aren’t going to win a lot of games when the majority of your regulars are barely hovering above the Mendoza line. In fact, out of those regulars, only Rougned Odor and Shin Soo Choo are even above .200. Everyone else is sitting well below for the season. At some point, you can’t keep saying it’s early, especially when most your line up is struggling. The veteran hitters in this line up have to step up, period.
The Rangers have done a good job masking their offensive struggles because they have hit a lot of home runs and scored a lot of runs. When you look beyond those two numbers though, you don’t see much to like. Here are the Rangers offensive ranks in categories besides runs and home runs:
- Hits: 23rd
- Avg.: 26th
- OBP: 24th
- Walks: 21st
- SO: 10th
In summary, the Rangers are hitting for a terrible average, and generally struggling to get on base, all while striking out too often. The offensive just isn’t good…..right now.
The potential is there. They have the pieces to be a good offensive team. They just can’t afford to keep waiting for things to come together. The process has to start now.
Defense: The defense isn’t saving runs, they are giving them away.
If you are struggling on offense and inconsistent on the mound, you need your defense to be great. The Rangers defense is not great.
Only three teams have more errors on the season than the Rangers, who sit at 11; that number doesn’t include several plays that easily could’ve been errors but were called hits. The Rangers have also given up 8 unearned runs this season, more than all but two other teams in baseball. This simply can’t continue if the Rangers are going to get on track. Pitching needs to pick up the offense and the offense needs to pick up the pitching; the defense needs to pick up both.
When asked how the Rangers get things turned around, Jeff Banister acknowledged that in many ways the Rangers aren’t doing what it takes to win ball games. As far as getting things turned around, he had this to say:
“It starts with playing good baseball. Defense today was not necessarily a challenge for us but it starts off the mound where we get good starts and quality at bats and then you get good relief appearances. It’s a very simple formula and one that we have been challenged with in different spots and really all facets of the game. Even though we are leading the American League in runs scored, it’s just the ability to string runs together and then to put the game away with what we feel is quality pitchers. We are going to get this thing going in the right direction; it has been challenging for us here early but as I remind everybody this is an extremely resilient group of guys and we’ll find a way to put some wins on the board.”
Banister no doubt believes that the Rangers are better than what they have shown to this point. There is no reason to believe otherwise this early in the season, so there is no reason to jump off the bandwagon just yet. The Rangers have not played like a good baseball team in 2017, but there is simply too much potential on this team for things to remain the way they are.
Don’t fret just yet Rangers fans; hope is still very reasonable at this point.