I was lucky enough to attend Opening Day for the Rangers this season. A humble brag to start out the piece, I’m sure you’re sucked in now more than ever.
Anyway, I was super excited because it’s Opening Day and I had a much better feeling about this year’s Texas Rangers team than most. Was I expecting a World Series win? No. A division championship? No. Maybe just hang around the Wild Card race and finish above .500? Ehhhh yeah? Let’s do it.
2018 wasted no time in seeming terrible for the Rangers as on Opening Day, public address announcer Chuck Morgan instructed the crowd to join him in a moment of silence to honor a few notable Rangers players and staff members who had passed away during the offseason. Directly following that would be the national anthem that would be concluded with a badass flyover of some cool planes. Well, things didn’t quite line up right and the planes arrived WAY early and flew over during the moment of silence…
The Rangers just screwed up their moment of silence with an all too early flyover. Time to put the cow in left center. #Moo
— Corby Davidson (@corbydavidson) March 29, 2018
If that weren’t enough, Cole Hamels would give up a homer to the Astro’s leadoff hitter George Springer and it was pretty much over from there.
To say things have really improved from there would be a bit of a stretch. The Rangers projected leadoff hitter and center fielder Delino DeShield’s went down with a hand injury just two games into the season. Starting second baseman Rougned Odor is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury after hurting while sprinting back to first base on a play in last Monday’s game. It was all topped off by the team’s MVP in 2017 and for the first two weeks of 2018, Elvis Andrus, getting pegged by pitch directly in the elbow on Wednesday night and it causing him to be out for at least six to eight weeks with a fracture in said elbow.
One-third of the Opening Day lineup out for extended periods of time this early part of the season.
Even with Saturday’s inspiring come from behind victory over the Astros, the Rangers are just 5-11 so far this season. Prior to Saturday, they had lost six straight games and most people seem content to label this season over. While I can’t exactly argue against that, let me at least try to give you some reasons for hope/justification for this poor start.
After tonight’s game in Houston, the Rangers will have played seven out of their first seventeen games against the Houston Astros. You know, the defending World Series champions? The team most people picked to win the whole thing again this year? They also lost two out of three in a home series to the Toronto Blue Jays who currently sit at 9-5. Last week the insanely hot Los Angeles Angels swept a three game series from the Rangers at Globe Life Park and their record is a ridiculous 13-3 at this point. Their other series so far was splitting a four gamer at the quirky Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum against the A’s where the Rangers have been terrible the last few seasons.
So for those counting, the records of teams the Rangers have played so far is 37-23 (62%).
On the flip side, their schedule for the next three series is a bit easier with their next series being against the 3-11 Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa and then returning with series against the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s. The Rangers should be able to play at least .500 ball over that stretch.
With Delino DeShields going down with an injury just two games in, the Rangers didn’t get much of a chance to roll out their ideal starting lineup before having to move pieces around. Add in Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor going down and you get the lineup they’ve rolled out so far in Houston this weekend.
— Stefan Stevenson (@StevensonFWST) April 14, 2018
That second half of the lineup isn’t exactly Murderer’s Row. This bunch was able to scrap together a comeback from 5-0 on Saturday to end the team’s six game losing streak, but yeesh.
Unfortunately, it looks like this may be a frequent look for the Rangers at least until Delino DeShields comes back sometime within the next week or two. If the team can just hold their head above water, as in not falling more than 10 games below .500 before April is even over, then they can begin their climb back once they get some players back from the DL and maybe even add a key bullpen piece in Tim Lincecum.
There is no immediate way to turn this terrible start by the Rangers around, but it’s only mid-April. There is a long way to go and baseball is season of peaks and valleys. There will be some peaks for the Rangers this season.
While they’ve given themselves little to no breathing room, there is still time to right these wrongs. If they do, it will take time. Weeks, maybe months of winning a series here or splitting a series there. Luckily, there is still plenty of time for the Rangers to figure this out.