The Texas Rangers Preview
By Paul Pleiss
The Twins are headed down to the sultry Ballpark in Arlington, TX for three games with the AL West Leading Rangers. I spent a few minutes talking with Eric Reining (@EricReining, @NolanWritinFS)of the Rangers site Nolan Writin’ to get an idea of what the Twins had in store for the holiday weekend series.
Both Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz are due to come back from injury in the near future, what is the plan for both of these top of the rotation guys going into the final 5 weeks of the season? Will either or both be with the team going into the post season?
According to various reports from the local D-FW media, the plan is to have Alexi Ogando return to the starting rotation, with Neftali Feliz assuming his former role in the bullpen. While Feliz is a total wild card at this point — no one really has any clue what to expect from him production-wise — Ogando will be auditioning to uproot Martin Perez as the Rangers 4th starter during the postseason.
Based purely on nothing, if right now I had to project Ogando and Feliz onto the playoff roster, I’d say Alexi will be part of a loaded bullpen, with Neftali left off.
The Twins are set to face Darvish, Garza and Blackley in the series; which game is most likely to fall to the Twins and why?
Of Yu Darvish, Matt Garza and Travis Blackley, the last of the three would seem to be the most obvious selection, so I’ll make the case against former Twin, Matt Garza:
In 48.2 innings since being traded to Texas from the Cubbies, Garza’s ERA is a very pedestrian 4.44, as he has allowed at least 4 earned runs in each of his last 5 starts. No one questions his level of motivation on the hill, but thus far his results have certainly left much to be desired.
The Rangers bullpen features the Twins all-time save leader, Joe Nathan. If the Twins are able to get to the Rangers bullpen, are there any weaknesses?
The Ranger bullpen has been a real strength in 2013, so it’s almost imperative for the Twins to have a lead by the 7th inning if they hope to scrape out some wins in Arlington this weekend. Aside Joe Nathan’s continued brilliance in the 9th inning, Texas also boasts a left-handed weapon in Neal Cotts (1.21 ERA in 44.0 IP), along with Tanner Scheppers (2.11 ERA in 59.2 IP) and Joakim Soria (3.21 ERA in a limited sample), all fully capable of locking down any offense late in the game.
Looking at the Twins lineup, which hitters project to cause the most trouble for the Rangers in this series?
Joe Mauer is probably (still) the only bat in the Minnesota lineup I look at as any real threat at .324/.404/.476 (143 wRC+), he’s the lone beacon of light on a roster consumed by average-to-below-average major league hitters and he’s out with a concussion. Sure, there’s Josh Willingham (105 wRC+) and Justin Morneau (102 wRC+) who still provide nominal value, but aside that the Ranger pitching staff shouldn’t have a terribly difficult time navigating through this lineup.
The Rangers are scheduled to face Liam Hendriks, Mike PeLOLfry and “staff ace” Kevin Correia; would any of these three have a 25-man roster spot on the Rangers ball club?
(note from Paul: bahahahahahaha)
Ron Washington is the manager for your Texas Rangers, tell me what you really think about him.
It’s no secret — not nationally or within the fan base — that Ron Washington receives significantly more credit for the recent string of Ranger success than he probably deserves. Forever a poor in-game tactician, Washington has been blessed with a creative, versatile group of players in 2013, arguably the best compendium of speed and defense he’s ever had at his disposal.
Should any of this weekend’s games come down to the last couple innings, Ranger fans will be collectively holding its breath that he doesn’t do something stupid with the bullpen, or by playing David Murphy in the outfield — as he is wont to do.
The Rangers have been a powerhouse in the West for the last half-decade, is this a trend you envision is here to stay for a long time, or are Rangers fan in for some dark days ahead?
With Jon Daniels given the reigns not only as the team’s General Manager, but as the President of Baseball Operations, Rangers ownership has made it clear who the true star of the organization is. It’s not Nolan Ryan, whose contributions have been blown way out of proportion. It’s not Ron Washington, who is more of a caretaker than anything. It’s Jon Daniels.
Ever since the Great Mark Teixeira Trade of 2007, Daniels hasn’t missed on many moves. He was responsible for the deft signing of Adrian Beltre, the acquisition of one of baseball’s most exciting pitchers, Yu Darvish, and in the last two years has locked up Derek Holland, Ian Kinsler, Matt Harrison and Elvis Andrus longterm, all who figure to be around when the club finally wins its mystical World Series title.
Will it happen? The playoffs are such a crap shoot that it’s impossible to predict. But even with the franchise’s unprecedented success of these last 4 years, there’s no reason to assume the team’s window will be closing any time soon.
Thanks again to Eric for taking some time to spill his guts about the Rangers. Let’s hope he’s wrong about the series and that the Twins use some good ol’ Texas BBQ to fuel a series W before heading across the state to face the Astros.