Rangers take advantage of home field

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, April 19th, 2019

a600ce83-a1fb-4a6a-a075-b529eda5a96d-large16x9_AP19107021823178BY DIC HUMPHREY
DHUMPHREY24@GMAIL.COM
Member United States Basketball Writers Association

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers go into the weekend on a four game winning streak after sweeping the Los Angeles Angels to start the week. For sure, the schedule has been favorable with 15 of the first 21 games at home.  So far they are 8-3 in Arlington with one rainout and three games to go this weekend
against the division leading Houston Astros. It’s a good time to be
hot. The Rangers play 23 of their first 28 games (their first nine
series) against American League West foes.

The pitching was supposed to be the Rangers’ Achilles heel, and
the starters in particular have pitched as expected. So far, six
different pitchers have started games, and they collectively are
averaging fewer than five innings per start and have a 5.59 ERA.
The good news is that two have separated from the pack. Lance
Lynn and especially Mike Minor have been good. Minor pitched the best
game of any Ranger starter over the past two years last Tuesday when
he threw a complete game shutout facing just three batters over the
minimum and allowing only three hits.  Both have been really good in
three of their four starts.  The Rangers are 5-3 in their eight starts
with one of the losses coming on the bullpen’s only blown save of the
season.

The problem is the rest of the rotation.  Only once in the 10
starts taken by other than Minor and Lynn has the starting pitcher
completed five innings.  The starting pitchers’ ERA in those 10 starts
is 8.82.  The Rangers are taking a cautious approach as far as
making a move. Shelby Miller and Drew Smyly will be given more
chances, as both have been really good in the past and both are coming
back from surgeries.

A year ago, the Rangers were patient and cautious with Minor, who
was coming back to being a starting pitcher after surgery similar to
Smyly and Miller.  Early last season, he wasn’t very good.  At the end
of May, he had an acceptable 4-4 record, but his ERA was 5.76.  Since
last August however, he’s really been one of the top 10 pitchers in
the American League.

They are showing patience with Miller and Smyly so far.  However,
if the Rangers finish the month much like they’ve started it, with a
record say of five games or more over .500, general manager Jon
Daniels will be feeling the pressure to upgrade the rotation if Miller
and Smyly haven’t shown improvement.

As for the bullpen, it’s been generally okay.  Jose Leclerc was a
concern in the second week of the season with two shaky outings in
Arizona, one of which resulted in a blown save.  However, he has
recorded three saves so far on this home stand.  Hopefully, he’s
righted the ship.

The offense has definitely perked up with the home games as they
have scored 36 runs (7.2 per game) in the first five games of the
current home stand.  Elvis Andrus has been the hottest Ranger thus
far, hitting .386 with a 1.011 OPS and 27 hits in the team’s first 17
games.  Joey Gallo and Asdrubal Cabrera lead the team with six home
runs each.  Gallo is the team’s RBI leader with 15, but Andrus and
Cabrera are close behind with 13.

As for the division, Seattle got off to the quick start. Better
quality opponents though have brought them back to earth.  Houston
swept them in three games last weekend, and now the teams are
virtually tied for first place with the Astros percentage points
ahead.  Despite the standings, the Mariners actually have more losses
than Texas.

One interesting development is the continuing struggles of the
Yankees and Red Sox.  Before the season began, those two teams were
considered along with Houston as the three best teams in the A. L., if
not the Major Leagues.  Boston looks like a shadow of the team that
won last year’s World Series.  They are in last place in the East with
a 6-13 record going into the weekend.  The Yankees are crippled by
injuries.  They have had as many as 12 players on the injured list,
and it’s reflected in their record.  They are also under .500 at 8-10
going into the weekend.

The bottom line is that a good start in the first 10% of the
season coupled with at least two teams expected to be in playoffs
floundering under .500, gives Ranger fans optimism that this season
could be far better than anyone imagined in March.  If the Rangers are
still competitive when the calendar flips from April to May, it may be
time to pay a lot more attention to the local nine in Arlington.

ROSTER MOVES:  On Friday of last week, Rougned Odor tweaked a knee and
was scratched from the starting lineup. The next day, he was placed on
the 10-day injured list with a sprained right knee, and Danny Santana
was called up from AAA Nashville (Edinson Volquez was transferred from
the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to clear a roster spot on the 40-man
roster for Santana.) Santana made his first Ranger appearance by
pinch hitting in the eighth inning last Sunday.  He tripled home two
runs to tie the game and later scored what proved to be the winning
run on a two out squeeze play, as the Rangers tallied an awesome
comeback win after trailing 7-2 going to the fifth inning.
Santana first broke into the Major Leagues in 2014 with Minnesota
and garnered some votes for Rookie of the Year.  His career has
regressed since, but he has had a good week for the Rangers hitting
.286 with three RBIs.  He is mainly a second baseman, but can play
center field.  It will be difficult for the Rangers to keep Santana
when Odor returns, but Santana looks to be a valuable bench player
that could help the club.

Kyle Bird was sent to AAA Nashville on Thursday.  The left-handed
reliever had not distinguished himself in three appearances, getting
credited with a win, but logging a 5.40 ERA in 6-2/3rds innings.  The
Rangers did not immediately make a corresponding move to replace
Dowdy, but there are strong indications that Brett Martin, a 6’-4”
hard throwing lefthander will get the call. Martin was a strong
prospect as a starting pitcher in the lower minor leagues, but his
career stalled when he got to AA until last year when he was moved to
the bullpen.  He made a strong showing in spring training and almost
made the opening day roster.

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