By Joey McGraw
Which way will the Texas Rangers take the second half of the season? In my opinion the Rangers have two directions to go in. They can keep playing veterans who are mid to late career players and hope to finish .500 at best or they can play some of their rising stars and look towards the 2015 season.
Option 1 – Some of the most notable players are in the starting rotation are towards the end of their career. Colby Lewis, Rangers favorite, has comeback and shown flashes of the deep playoff runs from past seasons but “father time ” is approaching and he might be more suited for a bullpen role to eat up innings. In reality Lewis could still be considered effective if some of his outings received more run support which would help his Win-Loss record. Joe Saunders, had a couple of really good seasons when he played for the Angels back in 2008 and 2009, with 17 and 16 wins respectively. Like Lewis, Saunders can eat up innings too, but at what cost? As a Ranger fan if we can’t look to the future and see the possibilities or the what if’s, then it will be increasingly difficult for the casual fan to watch a nine inning game. I will give the Texas Rangers a pass up to the All Star break because you as the fan and the organization don’t want to give up on the season too early.
Option 2 – Let me preface that I get the idea of protecting the younger players confidence level and letting them sharpen their skills through the ranks. I mentioned Joey Gallo a few weeks back. He leads all minor league players with 29 home runs. The knock on him was his swing to miss ratio, but as the batting averages are down across board, power hitters are even more of a premium. According to MLB.com, here are a couple of the future Rangers stars and their scouting report.
Alex Gonzalez – He is currently with Double-A Frisco Rough Riders. MLB.com states, “Gonzalez can give hitters fits with two different pitches. He commands his fastball to both sides of the plate with cut and sink, usually operating around 90-94 mph. His mid-80s slider was one of the best available in the 2013 Draft. Gonzalez is working on refining his changeup and he’ll throw an occasional curveball just to give batters a different look. He repeats his sound delivery well, enabling him to fill the strike zone with ease. Add it all up, and he has the look of an eventual No. 2 starter.”
Luke Jackson – At this time he is currently with Triple-A Round Rock Express. MLB.com states, “A 2010 supplemental first-rounder who signed for $1,545,000, Jackson has shown steady improvement in his three pro seasons. He has lowered his ERA and walk rate at each of his five stops, finishing 2013 with a 0.67 ERA in six appearances in Double-A. Jackson’s fastball ranges from 90-97 mph, and he can either bury it down in the strike zone or ride it by hitters at their letters. His go-to breaking ball is a hard curveball, though his slider reaches the mid-80s and could become equally effective if he throws it more. He also has some feel for a changeup. Jackson has a fearless approach and has cleaned up his delivery, though he’ll have to continue to refine his control and command. He has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, but if he doesn’t throw more strikes, he might become a late-inning reliever.”
Which direction will the Texas Rangers go in the second half? That’s why Jon Daniels is the General Manager and he gets paid to make these types of hard decisions. It might seem like the best gig in the world over the past few years, but this is when the job gets tough. As a fan I would like to see some young pitchers get some starts under their belt going into hopefully a healthier 2015 campaign.