The Rangers limped into the All-Star break by dropping 11 of their final 16 games, including four of the last five. Texas went did not win any of their last five series and losing four of the previous five series (split with the Tigers). However, the Rangers managed to keep their lead in the American League West and still withhold the third-best record in the American League behind the Rays and Orioles. Starting Friday, it’s go time for the Texas Rangers, and here are four things to look for in the final 71 games in the last two and a half months.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 12, 2023
It’s Go Time Until the Deadline
The first four series right out of the gate are against either first-place teams or a team chasing you in first place. The Rangers’ first home stand consists of the Cleveland Guardians, Tampa Bay Rays, and Los Angeles Dodgers, who all would be playoff teams if the season ended at the break. As much as the Rangers are struggling, the Rays have fallen under hard times since Texas saw Tampa Bay in early June. The Dodgers are on the other side of the spectrum, riding a four-game winning streak and winning seven of their last ten to tie Arizona atop the National League West. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Guardians sit atop a dismal American League Central with a .500 record. It’ll be the first time this season the Rangers see Cleveland, a team that has given Texas fits the past few seasons. While Chris Young and his crew are already making friends, these next 12 games will get a good sense of the 2023 Texas Rangers, a hopefully well-rested group.
Urgent Bullpen Reinforcements
The acquisition of Aroldis Chapman was supposed to make the bullpen stronger. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out, or at least in the first week, it hasn’t. Since the Rangers got Chapman, the club posted a 5.80 ERA among relievers with three blown saves (third most in MLB) with one save, a one-out save by Will Smith (who also had another outing where he recorded one out to close the game). In his short time with Texas, Chapman threw three shutout appearances (one inning each) with four total strikeouts and no walks. With Chapman and Smith good candidates for the eighth and ninth innings, the issue for the Rangers is finding that bridge and a backup in case either Aroldis or Will are unavailable. Even though the Rangers brought back pitcher Matt Bush on a minor league deal Wednesday, look for some aggressiveness to come at the end of the month for the Rangers and the trade market.
Aroldis Chapman 💯 pic.twitter.com/RtJKhcQcO9
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 3, 2023
Look for the Offense to Pick it Up
Since the 1-0 loss to St. Louis on June 7th, the Rangers have scored 145 runs (4.68 runs/game). That’s still top 10 in baseball during that span, but you’re talking about 8th in MLB as opposed to the best offense for the first two months. Coincidentally, that was the last game before an off day that started a span of 30 games in 31 days. I know exhaustion and tiredness are not excuses any player or coach will use, but that is a lot of baseball in a short time. The only off day the Rangers had in that span was after a night game, where they arrived in New York after 2 am. I see these position players well-rested and ready to go on Friday against Cleveland, which means more fireworks at the ballpark.
Who Gets the Next Call Up?
There are many ways to determine who gets the next big league opportunity. The Rangers showed with Owen White that they’re willing to take leaps from Double-A to the Majors for a spot outing, but I wouldn’t say they’ll do that again. First, will it be a position player or a pitcher? Second, will they add someone not currently on the 40-man roster? Finally, when will this happen? It won’t happen until at least early to mid-August (unless injuries occur), but I think the team will designate someone for assignment or add a player from the 40-man in a trade to make room. That said, if it’s a pitcher, Alex Speas is the next man up to help the bullpen issues, assuming they don’t clear themselves up. If we’re going the position player route, JP Martinez provides that spark in the Round Rock lineup that creates intrigue about what he can do in the majors. The three guys on the 40-man roster who have yet to make their debut haven’t blown the doors open in the minors, which is why the Rangers will have to be creative if they promote someone.
The Rangers start a three-game set against the Cleveland Guardians on Friday in Arlington.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 12, 2023
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