On the surface, not much has changed in this the second of 16 installments of Rangers Report card. Over the current 10 game span (games 11-20), the Rangers have compiled a 4-6 record, and find themselves occupying last place all to themselves. During that time they completed an East Coast swing in which they lost a series at New York, lost a series to Boston, and travelled home to begin an eight game home stand hosting Detroit and Chicago. So far they have split with Detroit. Here is a closer look inside the numbers.
The pitching is the worst, so we’ll start there. During this span, no one starter has pitched seven or more innings. It should be noted that Wilson has pitched into the seventh once, and was rewarded with a win for that effort in the resulting 3-0 shutout over Boston. But other than that one game performance, the starters are not only burying the team early, but taxing the bullpen as well. The top of the rotation is perhaps the worst, and have they struggled mightily. Just look at innings pitched: Feldman 2.1, 3.2. Harden 3.2, 4.1. Those games resulted in 1-3 record, and could have easily been 0-4 if not for Elvis Andrus getting a game winning RBI in the 9th against Detroit. As a whole, the team ERA in this span was roughly 4.92, and the WHIP came in at 1.55
Offensively the Rangers are struggling too. In one run games, the Rangers are 1-2, with back to back losses coming against Boston, and the sole win against Detroit (the same game referencing Elvis above). They are batting a measly .244 while the OBP is only a smidgeon better at .329, and slugging comes in only at .434. Strikeouts (75) are almost double the intentional passes (42). When they do get on base, they are not running either. Throw out the 9 steal game against Varitek of Boston and the Rangers have only swiped 5 bags, none in the last 5 games.
On the field, the Rangers committed just 3 errors, and two were at the catcher’s positions (Teagarden, Treanor). The level of double plays has improved and the good guys managed to turn 12, with six coming in the last three games.
Outside of the numbers there has been some player movement recently. First bagger Chris Davis, who has twice as many strikeouts to hits, was shipped north of the Red River to AAA Brick town. He pleased the organization in spring training, so there is hope yet he can work on his plate skills. Replacing him is top prospect Justin Smoak whose contract was purchased. We expected to see him in Ranger Blue at some point, let’s watch and see.
On Tuesday, catcher Taylor Teagarden was also shipped north after struggling at the plate as well. Replacing him is Max Ramirez, who will split time with Treanor. Ramirez played in 17 games with the Rangers in 2008, showing some pop with 2 homers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was activated from his rehab and also sent to Brick Town.
The worst news in terms of player action was the placement on the 15 Disabled List of outfielder Nelson Cruz. Coming out of games in late innings recently, Cruz was listed as suffering from a first degree strain of his right hammy. But don’t look for Vlad to get much fielding time replacing him, at least just yet. The organization will be taking a look at Craig Gentry.
Finally on the player front, there has been a number 5 sighting in Frisco. Ian Kinsler gets a brief rehab assignment with the Rough Riders and is expected to join the Rangers as the team travels West to play Seattle. Kinsler’s offense is sorely needed, but he’ll face Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez in his first two starts.
Bottom Line: The Rangers will finish out the home stand against Chicago and then try to make up ground in the AL West as they travel to take on Seattle and Oakland. They will then host Kansas City to begin a seven game home stand as Oakland comes to town. It’s been unusually cool here in North Texas so far this spring, so all we can do is hope with warmer weather the bats will heat up too. As far as the pitching, Maddux needs to get in the heads and evaluate the mechanics of what is going wrong with the pitching staff. The 10 game predictions are more of the same, with 5-5 being about as hopeful as it gets, but I realistically look for a 2-4 road trip