For the Texas Rangers, the All Star break could not get here quickly enough. The rest should do them well, but until help returns, this team has hit a wall.
There is an alarming statistic that has underscored the Texas Rangers’ 3-9 skid since June 29th. In all but one game, their starting pitcher has failed to get beyond the fifth inning. Even when this team was playing out of their minds during June, it wasn’t a very well kept secret that the bullpen was being overworked. The starters’ recent inability to eat innings has exacerbated the load on the relievers.
The result is that opposition runs have been coming in bushels. In this twelve game stretch, Rangers’ pitching has given up ten or more runs in five games. The offense has been game on most nights, providing rallies and some punch, but the bats have definitely been drowning under the tide of lackluster pitching and defensive lapses.
This pronounced malaise was on display in yet another Texas Rangers’ blowout loss to the lowly Minnesota Twins yesterday afternoon.
If you watch this team on a day-to-day basis, it is frustrating to see them falter after they’ve been so strong for most of the season. But the fact remains that there was probably a stretch of bad baseball in them somewhere.
Baseball doesn’t lend itself well to a fiery intensity over the course of 162 games. The law of averages dictates a losing streak, a slump, a run where a team can do no right. And it often occurs after a period in which a team could seemingly do no wrong.
Such is the case with the Texas Rangers. There is a silver lining. As bad as they’ve been for most of the past two weeks, they stlll possess the best record in the American League. The offense hasn’t imploded. It stands to reason that once pitcher Yu Darvish returns, it will help provide some stability to a rotation that has been taking on a lot of water. As currently constructed, there are a few hurlers in there that probably don’t have any business being in a big league rotation.
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Of course, Darvish’s imminent return doesn’t guarantee the Rangers will elevate back to their June pace of play. Questions will remain regarding his ability to stay healthy for an extended stretch. He has the benefit of the doubt right now, but another setback will certainly raise doubts about his durability.
While Darvish’s ability is beyond reproach, the Texas Rangers’ long term success for this season rests on his healing arm. Even with the recent run of bad play, it’s easy to look forward to cool October nights with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish providing a lethal one-two punch in a playoff rotation.
So while it’s natural to be part of the glass-half-empty crowd right now, present company included, there’s no reason to think that the veteran and managerial leadership of this bunch won’t find a way to right the ship in time to make a late season run. They’re still 5.5 games clear of the Houston Astros in the American League West. In other words, the Rangers have built enough baseball capital to withstand the tough times they’re going through right now.
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It also warrants mentioning that general manager Jon Daniels won’t stand pat as the trade deadline approaches. Given the problems in the bullpen, names like Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller have been linked to the Rangers. The price would be steep, especially for Miller, and would likely include a name like infielder Joey Gallo, but the Texas Rangers are obviously serious about winning right now. All options must be on the table and up for discussion.