2018 has been nothing less than a disappointing season for the Texas Rangers.
They’re dead last in the AL West with a record of 7-13, they’ve already dealt with a pair of gruesome injuries to outfielder Delino Deshields and veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus, and they most recently dropped two games in a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on the road. While all of these are most definitely hardships for the Rangers, this weekend presents the opportunity to climb up the division standings, as the Seattle Mariners make their first trip to Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The Mariners aren’t that much better of a ball club than the Rangers on paper and have also been struggling with consistency all season long. Sitting on a middle of the pack record of 9-8 and ranking No. 3 in the AL West, just one game ahead of the Oakland Athletics, the Mariners have lost four of their last five games that includes three consecutive losses at home to the defending World Series Champions Houston Astros. In that series, they were outscored 20-4 with limited offensive production.
Offensive production hasn’t been there for the Rangers either, as they rank No. 18 in runs scored in 2018 while the Mariners rank directly behind them at No. 19. This implies that this series might be determined through starting pitching.
Getting a glimpse of the projected starting pitching lineups, both teams haven’t had much of a fun season in this category.
Friday night- Mike Minor (1-1) vs. Félix Hernández (2-2)
Mike Minor, who signed a free agent deal with the Rangers back in December, has yet to find consistency with his command this season and hasn’t pitched more than 6.0 innings in any of his three appearances. However, the Rangers can’t give up on Minor this early in the season. During Minor’s win on April 7 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays, Minor only gave up two hits and allowed one run, proving that the 30-year-old can still play. Tonight against Seattle, Minor must maintain control of his fastball if he wants a win to come his way. Félix Hernández, nicknamed “King Félix”, is a the six-time All-Star who has been off his typical stature in 2018, posting a 5.48 ERA with only 15 Ks in four decisions. With that said, this pitching matchup could be a slug fest with time being the only determinant of which pitcher lasts the longest.
Saturday night- Bartolo Colón (0-0) vs. James Paxton (1-1)
Let’s not get it twisted here, folks. The 44-year-old Colon pitched lights out on Sunday in Houston when facing off against future Hall of Fame pitcher Justin Verlander until his no-hitter got broken up in the 8th inning for a no-decision, as Colón struck out seven Astros and looked fairly comfortable on the mound with great composure. However, during that game the Rangers couldn’t produce whatsoever on the offensive end. This time around, the Rangers’ offense could struggle once again with James Paxton on the mound for Seattle. Paxton won his most recent decision on Monday versus the Astros and struck out 17 batters total in his last two decisions, so look for Paxton to come out of the gate seeking to take advantage of a shaky Rangers batting lineup.
Sunday afternoon- Martín Pérez (1-2) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (0-0)
With a sky-high 13.14 ERA, the statistic speaks for itself. Pérez only has six Ks in 12.1 IP and has surrendered 29 ERs without displaying any signs of improvement. Importantly, Pérez will have to stay focused on one batter at a time if he has any shot of mustering a win. Ramirez will be making his season debut in this game after splitting time in Seattle and Tampa Bay in 2017 where he posted a 4.39 total ERA.
No matter the outcome of this series, it’s evident that the Rangers won’t even be sweeping the dust of the playoffs come October, so it’s vital that player development is the focus of attention in these next three games.
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