Ninety games have come and passed by in this 2019 season. Overall, the club sits three games back of a steamy Cleveland Indians team in the second wild card and nine back of the Houston Astros. While most, if not all, did not foreshadow the success this club transpired, there are still concerns that the Rangers need to address to live happily ever after in their Cinderella fairy tale.
The Carousel Known as the Rangers end of Rotation
It’s clear that the two driving forces of the Rangers rotation are the All-Star Mike Minor and the bulldog (as Nomar Mazara describes) Lance Lynn. However, the question remains on how the Rangers handle the back end of their rotation. Two weeks ago, the club inserted Jesse Chavez to the rotation because of his success and reliability in the bullpen. It was a move that Chavez certainly deserves and has gone on record stating he enjoys it. But the question remains, is a starter the best fit for him?
Another rough outing for Adrian Sampson raises small concerns. In his last seven starts, Sampson allowed ten home runs, and twenty-two earned runs. Ariel Jurado finished the pre-break with a 2.1 scoreless outing Sunday at Minnesota, but Jurado allowed four or more runs in three of his last four starts. Chris Woodward told me that early this month the team would evaluate their staff, and it looks like the Rangers are inserting starters to find out what sticks. I feel like the Rangers want to bring Chavez back to the bullpen to use him on a more daily basis, and give a guy like Joe Palumbo a spot into the rotation. The lingering question is if Palumbo is ready to be a full-time major league starter. With a good outing at Minnesota, and something to build on, the Palumbo experiment could be coming in the near future.
You don't have to play the position to give good advice. In a perfect example of leadership, @HunterPence helped @Ad_Sampson stay on track after some struggles in a recent game.#TogetherWe | @Rangers pic.twitter.com/xZkOz94Ft5
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 6, 2019
Rougned Odor’s Bat not Smelling Pleasant on the Stat Sheet
There’s no secret that the Rangers organization, fans, and even Rougie aren’t satisfied with is first seventy-four games of 2019. At this point in the year, Odor is hitting .193 with an on-base percentage of .258. With all that said, Rougie and the Rangers saw a lot of promise to close out the All-Star break. Odor reached base in eight of his last twelve games including a three-hit night on June 28th at Tampa Bay. Rougie followed with a multi-home run game on July 4th against the Angels and blasted a huge go-ahead home run in the 11th on Sunday in Minnesota. It’s a lot to build on heading into the unofficial second-half for Odor. However, the key is consistency, which has been the issue for Odor all of 2019.
Nomar Mazara talked after Thursday’s win about Rougned Odor. “This game is hard. You can’t get frustrated. You have to continue to work and continue to improve and try to be consistent. Sometimes you try a lot of stuff and it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t work. [Odor] never put his head down and continues to work through all year and for him to have a game like that [two home runs] makes all of us happy.” It looks like Rougie’s bat is steaming, but with Hunter Pence coming back; the Rangers need to make a change. The fact that the club is within reach of a playoff spot looms a question of the commitment for Rougie.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 7, 2019
Where on the field is… Danny Santana?
Let me say this, everyone talked about the resurgence of Hunter Pence, but don’t leave Danny Santana in the dust. After a successful first year for Santana with Minnesota, it went downhill quickly. The Twins traded Danny to the Braves where the struggles continued. There were even questions if Santana would even play in the big leagues again.
“I was frustrated after I had the first year and it was a great year than the next year I was struggling a lot. It was a little bit mentally struggling,” Danny said prior to Thursday’s game against the Angels. “I hope to put everything back; I have to be strong in my mind and in my head.”
All of this aside, the reason this is an issue for the Rangers is consistency. Chris Woodward said on multiple occasions that he likes the versatility of Danny Santana. I recall back before Spring Training where the Rangers would commit to Joey Gallo in the outfield and Isiah Kiner-Falefa at catcher. Jon Daniels wanted to anchor both those guys to one spot. It’s difficult for any player to adjust day in and day out from any different position. Fans saw that with Jurickson Profar last year moving from first to second to short. That led to one of his worst defensive seasons. The changes haven’t affected Santana yet, but it is an aspect to ponder down the stretch.
Danny goes boom. pic.twitter.com/sPpNkZsfv8
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) June 18, 2019
Let’s Look at the Schedule Ahead
If you take a quick gander at the rest of the 72 games a few things pop out. The Rangers schedule gets extremely difficult. Texas still has nineteen games against American League division leaders, with five at Houston, six against the Yankees, and four against the Twins. The Rangers still have two visits to the Oakland Coliseum, one visit to Seattle, and a quick two-gamer at Anaheim to finish the west coast trips. The biggest thing that pops up is forty of the remaining seventy-two games are against teams over .500. In 2019, The Rangers are 19-17 against teams over .500 (who entered the contest over .500 that day).
The Rangers start the post All-Star break with their Texas counterparts, the Houston Astros. It’ll be intriguing to see if this club can keep the momentum and defy the outsiders, a driving force all season long. It’s going to be a fun stretch down the road.
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