Texas Rangers: Losing Playoff Chances

There needs to be a meeting of the minds within the Rangers organization to get the team back on track. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Wiley Singleton

A month ago the Texas Rangers were in the heat of the playoff race. Mike Minor and Lance Lynn looked like a legitimate top of the rotation combo. The offense was top 3 in runs scored. The bullpen looked solid with Jesse Chavez hitting his stride and Jose Leclerc being used in a variety of ways. At that time, the Rangers floated around 8 games above .500. Many speculated they had an outside chance to sneak into the playoff race. Considering the wild card game was a best of one and Mike Minor looked top tier, this was a legitimate aspiration. The Rangers were on the cusp of being buyers at the trade deadline, and fortifying their rotation and becoming a playoff team for the first time since the disgraceful 2016 ALDS.

The Rangers managed to piss away an entire first half’s worth of lead in one week in one of the most repugnant performances in Rangers history. The grotesque performance rivals the historically bad 1973 season that almost made the team fail completely. Unfortunately, the best manager ever, Billy Martin, was not around to turn this squad around. Chris Woodward watched his team disappear faster than his hair in one of the most revolting weeks of baseball in Rangers history. 

It is hard to overstate how much damage the Arizona Diamondbacks did to the Rangers this year. It is perplexing to consider that a middling NL team with no history against the Rangers could deal such devastating damage in a mere four game series. Back when the Rangers played the Diamondbacks in Arizona in April the Diamondbacks obliterated bullpen cornerstone Jose Leclerc. Leclerc’s blown save against the D-Backs got him demoted from the closer role. Leclerc signed a big contract in the offseason and was presumed to be the next Neftali Feliz, a talented fireballing young closer. Leclerc getting lit up against the Diamondbacks was a season defining moment, because even if the Rangers made the playoffs they would need Leclerc to return to being a top tier closer to have a chance against playoff teams. Look at the Yankees bullpen. Chad Green, Adam Ottovino, Aroldis Chapman are all top tier. The Rangers would need at least one of their guys to be able to shut the door in the 9th, at bare minimum. Closers are famous for being weak-minded and vulnerable. Look at Shawn Tolleson, the grand slam he gave up against Khris Davis ruined his career. Look at Sam Dyson, the homer he gave up Jose Basista ruined him for a time. He had to be dealt to the best pitchers park in baseball and the National League to get his ERA below 10.00. The Rangers having to demote Leclerc because of the D-Backs was a season defining moment. 

The Diamondbacks returned to Texas to finish ruining the Rangers season last week. To say that the D-Backs smashed the Rangers would be an understatement.The D-Backs humiliated the Rangers on their home field, turning the final season of Globe Life Park into a joke. 

In the opening game of the series Lance Lynn gave up 5 runs and the top 4 batters of the Rangers lineup went hitless. The Rangers never led and lost 9-2. In the following game, Jesse Chavez was brutalized so badly he was moved back to the bullpen within a few hours. Chavez gave up seven runs and failed to make it out of the first inning. Adrian Sampson, who the Rangers badly needed to become the next Derek Holland, was also shelled. Sampson’s recent poor performances are incredibly disappointing because he is considered one of the arms of the future, and even if the Rangers do not make the playoffs this year they need Sampson to be good. Sampson was awful in this game. He gave up five runs in 1.1 IP. Chris Woodward used all of the poor pitchers from his bullpen this game. They all gave up runs except Taylor Guerrieri. Woodward even used catcher Tim Fedorwicz at pitcher. This game was as repulsive as it was disappointing. The Rangers lost 19-4.

The Rangers have been solid against the Houston Astros at home, but cannot beat them on the road. They were swept again in Houston. In the opening game, Mike Minor underperformed, giving up four runs. Justin Verlander gave up some hits but embarrassed the Rangers when they had runners in scoring position. The Rangers lineup looked hole-filled and clownish as their best players, Joey Gallo and Elvis Andrus went 0-10. Gallo was particularly awful in this series. He went hitless in the entire series and is awful in Houston. Nomar Mazara went 0-4 as he does in most important games. Mazara going 0-4 in games that matter is as synonymous with the recent Rangers as losing to the Blue Jays in the playoffs. Mazara has not developed at all and looks as though he will never be anything more than a .265 hitter with poor defense. 

The Rangers managed only two hits against Jose Urquidy and looked like a group of quitters in the second game of the series. Shin-Soo Choo managed a homer and is one of the only Rangers who is consistent. Ariel Jurado gave up 5 ER in 5 IP. The Rangers lost in this boring and disappointing game 6-1. 

To wrap up last week’s series, Lance Lynn struck out 12 but gave up 4 ER in the final humiliating game of the week. Gallo and Odor both went 0-4. Rougie Odor continues to be one of the worst signings in Rangers history. The Rangers never led in this game and will probably be liquidating assets like Michael Jackson in the upcoming week. The final score was 5-3 but it might as well have been 30-3 for the amount of damage it did to the Rangers season.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
7/22   @Mariners    9:10 p.m.
7/23   @Mariners    9:10 p.m.
7/24   @Mariners    2:40 p.m.
7/25   @A’s               9:07 p.m.
7/26   @A’s               9:07 p.m.
7/27   @A’s               8:07 p.m.
7/28   @A’s               3:07 p.m.