If 2018 is a season of chances and experimentation, expect Texas management to play the part of mad scientists in Rangers’ second half.
At the time of publication, Texas hasn’t made any major trade deadline moves. This will certainly have an impact on the final roster. Even so, there are some major themes that could define the rest of a retooling year.
Throw in an intriguing schedule and player development storylines to follow, and we’ll be eager to see what comes as a result of this experiment.
Throughout June and early July, Texas has lingered around 10 games below.500. That likely won’t last much longer. Towards the end of the Major League season, records seem to normalize, and loses begin to pile up for weaker teams.
When paired with a very difficult schedule, that doesn’t bode well for the Rangers. The second half starts with hosting Cleveland on July 20. The team heads on the road for a series with Houston on July 27, the last installment of the Silver Boot Series in 2018. The Rangers visit New York for a grueling four-game set with the Yankees starting Aug. 9.
Then starts a significant theme of the second-half schedule: Intra-division games. Each MLB team plays each divisional opponent 19 separate times, with many of those match-ups happening later in the season.
Texas still faces the Los Angeles Angels 12 more times, including nine times in a three-week period in August. The Rangers play Oakland and Seattle 10 more times each.
In July Interleague play, the Rangers will play host to contenders Arizona and Los Angeles, while visiting San Francisco and San Diego in August.
Throughout the season, Rangers fans have had to wonder about the status of one of the team’s most prized prospects, and centerpiece of the return in last July’s Yu Darvish trade: OF Willie Calhoun.
Calhoun has been at Triple-A Round Rock all season long, developing his defensive skills in the outfield, and battling a bit of an attitude issue; although the details are murky.
It’s a forgone conclusion that Calhoun will at least join the team Sep. 1, when the maximum roster size expands to 40 players. The interesting part will be seeing where the 23-year old fits into the Rangers lineup.
Barring injury or trade to a big-league outfielder, the general consensus among Rangers beat reporters is that AAA All-Star Scott Heineman, not Calhoun, who’s called up first.
AAA teammate LHP Brady Feigl, who has a 0.84 ERA between Double-A Frisco and Round Rock this season, could also figure his way into the bullpen soon, perhaps even before September call-ups.
Among batters, it will be interesting to watch the development of OF Joey Gallo, who enters the second half batting a paltry .187. Though not expected to hit for average, Gallo must begin to improve at some degree.
LHP Martin Perez has looked strong since returning from injury Saturday. With the team out of contention, this will a great time to defy skeptics- the former prized arm holds a career 4.57 ERA.