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Evaluating the first third of the Rangers shortened season

Photo: Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire

Evaluating the first third of the Rangers shortened season

After Texas’ 10-6 loss to the Rockies Sunday, the Rangers completed the first third of the 2020 season. The club enters the second third at an even 10-10 record, third in the American League West. Currently, the Rangers would tie for the eighth seed in the postseason with the Chicago White Sox (who played two more games than the Rangers) and are a half-game back of second-place Houston. There’s a lot to dissect in less than a month, but the Rangers seem to have a better groove in their last ten games than the first ten games of the season. Still, a lot of work remains.

Offense Struggles

The offense showed improvement in the past week but remains sub-par. The Rangers rank fourth-worst in baseball in OPS, fifth-worst in batting average, and are averaging 3.85 runs a game. The “Power Rangers” offense fans came to expect is deteriorating with the club hitting a total of sixteen home runs in 2020 (second-lowest to the Cardinals). Over the last five games, the club managed to score 26 runs whereas the previous fifteen games; the Rangers scored only 51 runs.

It’s difficult adjusting to the new ballpark and having to change an entire approach. Shin-Shoo Choo talked on Sunday about the message he’s given the younger hitters about improving. “I told a lot of young players, who knows, this ballpark could make us better hitters,” Choo said. “We have to swing at strikes more; we have to be short to the ball and not try too much. That can make them better hitters. That’s been my message.”

Defensive woes

While the team enters Monday ranked in the middle of MLB in fielding percentage, the eye test says otherwise. The main reason for that is the club struggled with double-play turns (plays that don’t rule as errors). The defensive struggles shined this past weekend at Coors Field. The infield created some problems in addition to a few outfield mistakes by Nick Solak and Joey Gallo.

“It hasn’t been great. I am not going to be shy about it,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said after Sunday’s loss. “We haven’t been playing great defense. Early on, we didn’t as well. We’ve got to play better defense, especially if we want to contend. We’ve got to execute those plays, that’s just a fact. The bottom line, we have to get better.” Texas is trying to avoid falling again in the bottom ten in fielding for the fourth straight year.

Pitching

There’s no question Lance Lynn is the man on the throne. Lynn’s accomplishments in 2020 are staggering, and the more you dig deeper, the more confounding they are. Lance Lynn currently leads MLB in ERA starting the week. He is one of six MLB pitchers who have a complete game in 2020 and continues a streak of 29 straight starts with 100 pitches or more.
The bullpen continues to improve, despite a few rocky outings. The Rangers are adjusting with the injury to Jose Leclerc and found a clear eighth and ninth inning combination that works in Jonathan Hernandez and Rafael Montero. Texas came into Sunday with the seventh-fewest innings from their relievers (this list includes St. Louis, Philadelphia, Miami, and the Cubs). The Rangers are hoping they get more consistency, but the question remains the back-end of the rotation. Kolby Allard didn’t get much help from his defense, which created a shortened start, and the Rangers are hoping Mike Minor can return to form.

Overall Analysis

Considering the team’s struggles in all three phases of the game, it’s a surprise the team is sitting at 10-10. With the new stadium, the lack of fans, and the pressure of a shortened season, it caused a lot of the roster to come out of the gate slowly. There’s a sense in the clubhouse that the team is improving overall, that’s the good news. However, the Rangers will start a brutal stretch, including the Dodgers, Athletics, and Astros.

Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus are slowly starting to figure things out, Derek Dietrich is pumping this team along with Todd Frazier, and Danny Santana came back from the injured list. “I know I didn’t start how I want. But you know what, I never give up, I [keep] working hard, I keep trying,” Rougie said after Sunday’s loss. It’s the same mentality that surrounds the team; now it’s time for the results to come.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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