Series Preview: Texas (August 31-September 2)

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13: David Murphy #7 of the Texas Rangers (2nd from L) celebrates with Yorvit Torrealba #8 of the Texas Rangers (L), Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers and manager Ron Washington #38 of the Texas Rangers after Murphy hit a home run against the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 13, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)


The Indians just got swept by the hottest team in the American League....now they get to face the best team in the American League.

Team in a Box (click to enlarge)

Texas_aug_31-sep_2_medium

The Rangers have the advantage of playing in perhaps the most hitter-friendly park in the majors, but even if you take off a bit due to park effects, they're still a darn good hitting team. And their home road splits aren't that drastic;.821 OPS at home, .749 on the road. Conversely, ranking 6th in the AL in runs allowed is quite an accomplishment, especially considering that they're down two of their starting pitchers.

With the league's best record, normally you'd be able to coast the rest of the way, but with Oakland now 4 games back, and considering the huge difference between making the playoffs as a division winner and wild card qualifier, the Rangers may not have many opportunities to rest the way. They'll play the Indians six times over the next 14 days, so that will be a big help to them.

Typical Lineup

Pos. Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ PA
2B Ian Kinsler .267 .337 .439 102 591
SS Elvis Andrus .300 .365 .391 99 529
CF Josh Hamilton .292 .356 .585 142 525
3B Adrian Beltre .311 .348 .524 125 531
RF Nelson Cruz .264 .329 .470 107 517
DH Michael Young .267 .299 .344 69 521
LF David Murphy .312 .390 .486 129 399
C Geovany Soto .243 .300 .365 74 82
1B Mitch Moreland .296 .342 .530 125 270

A Texas Ranger batting line tends to skew high because of their home park, so I've added the OPS+. Again, even with the Arlington factor taken out, this is an outstanding lineup. Their key offensive players have remained healthy for the most part, with 6 regulars already over 500 plate appearances. Kinsler is having a down year by his standards, but David Murphy is having a career season, and Beltre and Hamilton are having their typical seasons. Michael Young may be done, as his power seems to have totally left him, but the Rangers still owe him $16M in 2013.

Probable Starters

Date Pitcher ERA Innings SO/9 BB/9 H/9
Aug 31 Ryan Dempster 5.46 31.1 8.3 2.9 10.3
Sep 1 Scott Feldman 4.95 100.0 6.3 2.2 10.3
Sep 2 Derek Holland (L) 4.90 134.0 7.3 2.7 8.1

The Rangers acquired Dempster from the Cubs before the July trading deadline to help plug some holes in the rotation. Ryan got bombed in two of his first three starts with the Rangers, but his last two starts have been much better. Not sure what's going on with Holland - the peripherals say that he be a very good pitcher, but the earned runs don't match up.

Key Relievers

Throws Pitcher ERA Innings SO/9 BB/9 H/9
Right Joe Nathan 2.49 50.2 11.4 1.4 7.5
Left Robbie Ross 1.78 60.2 6.4 3.3 7.3
Right Alexi Ogando 2.82 54.1 8.9 2.2 6.6

The Texas bullpen has been great, with five relievers with an ERA+ over 150. Robbie Ross has been particularly good, allowing just 49 hits (and just 3 home runs(!)) in 60.2 innings of work already this season. The Rangers also just got Koji Uehara back, which adds another fantastic arm to their bullpen.

On the Shelf

  • RHP Neftali Feliz (elbow surgery - Tommy John) - out for season
  • RHP Colby Lewis (elbow surgery - flexor tendon) - out for season
  • C Mike Napoli (quad) - 15-day DL

The rotation is the one area of the club that the Rangers are thin in. Feliz moved to the rotation this season, and although he was having success as a starter, he had to have Tommy John surgery this month and will likely not come back until late 2013 or (more likely) 2014. Colby Lewis, who had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm, also won't be back until next year.

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