Texas Rangers: Opportunity Squandered

Texas Rangers OF Hunter Pence has been on a tear lately. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Wiley Singleton

The Texas Rangers just completed their most recent home stand taking two out of three series and winning seven of their last eleven. They are sitting in second in the AL West and are the second Wild Card team if the season ended on Sunday. Yet something seems amiss. Perhaps Rangers fans know that this has been a nice ride but it’s coming to an end soon. That being said, let’s take a look at how the week went down…

Series vs Orioles

Game 1 – Clueless Drew Smyly faced off against a terrible Baltimore Orioles offense to open the Rangers series. Smyly was awful as usual and continues to prove he has no place on a major league roster. He gave up 7 runs over 3.1 IP. Clueless Drew’s ineptitude is one of the most consistent elements of the 2019 Texas Rangers. His ERA is 8.40 and he makes almost every game he is in borderline unwinnable. Smyly, like Matt Moore last year, is a shining example of a reclamation project gone wrong. Smyly had a couple decent years for the Tigers, but since his injury has been ineffective. Shelby Miller has a nearly identical story. He had some talent in the past, but has been terrible since his injury. Miller and Smyly are the posterboys of the negative side of trying to revive pitchers that were injured. Both of them continue to be human anchors that weigh down the Rangers everytime they play.

The importance of their continuous ineptitude cannot be overstated, they are consistently awful and are the primary factors in the Rangers not being a consistent strong threat to take the second wild card spot. Manager Chris Woodward and GM Jon Daniels are going to have to man up and send them down to AAA or release them if they want any chance of sneaking into the playoffs. Passing the buck ad nauseum is one of Jon Daniels’ favorite tricks as a GM. He rested on his laurels during the 2010 and 2011 playoff runs which allowed the utterly useless Mark Lowe to be put in a crucial situation in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, ultimately resulting in David Freese crushing the Rangers aspirations; a franchise defining moment the organization has still not recovered from. The fact that Miller and Smyly are still on the roster is a perfect example of how Daniels hamstrings his team by not rounding out a roster. For Daniels, a .500 season with a top 3 offense in the league is exceeding expectations. Instead of recognizing the immense offensive talent of the club and trying to find pitching to support it, Daniels rides out his failed signings for as long as possible, subjecting fans of the team to constant insufferably poor performances. For Daniels, this final season of the Globe Life Park is nothing more than a transitional period. He does not recognize the immense talent on offense, nor the resurgence of Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. Daniels is merely content to continuously trot out frauds like Smyly and Miller, citing the fact that most people expected the team to be poor as justification for his non-action. For Daniels, seeing one of the best offenses in the MLB incur nearly insurmountable disadvantages regularly due to poor pitching is part and parcel. Daniels seems to be of the mindset that the final season at Globe Life Park is nothing more than a melodramatic farewell tour for former Rangers who also failed to win a World Series.

The American League is incredibly top heavy. The Yankees, Twins, and the Astros are almost certainly going to win their divisions. The Rays are very strong and will probably win the first wild card spot off the back of Charlie Morton and defending Cy Young winner Blake Snell. The 2nd wild card is wide open. The Indians lack their two best pitchers, Kluber and Clevenger. The Red Sox lost their best pair of bullpen arms and Chris Sale has been inconsistent and frequently fades down the stretch. The A’s were a flash in the pan last year. Teams like the Royals, Tigers, and Mariners look awful and have no chance of even going .500. This means the 2nd wild card spot is actually up for grabs. The Rangers look like a legitimate threat behind their tremendous offense and Mike Minor. But everytime they are about to transition into a legitimate threat from a mediocre team, they start Drew Smyly or feature Shelby Miller. These two inept clowns can no longer be considered legitimate MLB level pitchers, and every inning they pitch in a Rangers uniform is a direct slap in the face to Rangers fans who are supposed to be satisfied with a jersey retirement ceremony and another mediocre season. The go along to get along attitude of Jon Daniels is wearing thin on a fanbase that is always expected to put up with garbage performances. What is the point of still having Smyly and Miller on the roster? Why not sign Austin Bibens-Dirkx to a veteran minimum and let him turn in 6 serviceable innings as the fifth starter? Why are Rangers fans condemned to suffer the agony of Smyly and Miller because Daniels signed them and expects them to return to old form despite not showing any signs of being half of what they were before injury?

 With a rotation of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Ariel Jurado, and Adrian Sampson, the Rangers actually have a decent rotation that could easily post a winning record. Instead of finding a serviceable 5th starter, the Rangers are content to trot out garbage, shrug their shoulders, and say “well, what did you expect this year anyway?”

The repulsive apathy exhibited by the front office is made even funnier by the increasing season ticket prices. Fans of the Rangers are slighted and done one disservice after another as management wrings their hands and does nothing. The Rangers will need some bullpen help and a 5th starter to make the playoffs. Playoffs are more attainable than the average fan might think considering how top heavy the American League is. The opening game against the awful Orioles is a perfect representation of the problems with the Rangers this year. They were down 9-2 early thanks to Drew Smyly and could not come back despite the offense putting up 11 runs. Playoff teams cannot afford to give up 12 runs to the awful Orioles. Dropping this game and splitting the subsequent series against the A’s are a perfect example of the apathy the Rangers organization shows that legitimate playoff teams do not show. The Orioles are a joke and should be swept. The A’s are a division rival and one of the Rangers primary wild card competitors. The Rangers need to take care of business against these teams, because then they have weeks like the upcoming one where they have to play Boston. Loss 12-11

Game 2 – Mike Minor was good as usual in his start in Game 2. He pitched 5.2 scoreless innings. John Means turned in a quality start for the O’s, giving up 1 ER over 6 IP. Delino DeShields was the hero of this game after returning from AAA after Joey Gallo got hurt. Delino had 4 hits. Mazara, Pence, and Choo all failed to record a hit. The Rangers took a lead into the 9th, which Shawn Kelly blew. Kelly is not a good closer, he frequently struggles in the 9th and this was no exception. He blew the lead, giving up a homer to a poor player and the Rangers were forced to go 12 innings to win the game. Delino ended up winning the game with a walkoff single. Win 2-1

Game 3 – David Hess turned in a quality start for the O’s. He was opposed by Ariel Jurado who had a similar line, turning in 6 solid innings. Jesse Chavez, Chris Martin, and Shawn Kelly held the Rangers 4-3 lead to win the series. Danny Santana, Hunter Pence, and Ronald Guzman all had an RBI. Win 4-3

Series versus Athletics

Game 1 – Lance Lynn was solid as usual, posting 6 IP of 2 run ball. Brett Anderson did about as well, lasting 6.1 IP and giving up 3 ER. Elvis Andrus flew out with the bases loaded to squander a chance for the Rangers in the bottom of the 7th when the game was tied 3-3. This came right after Andrus booted a ball in the top half of the inning to hamstring Shelby Miller and help blow the 3-2 lead. The Rangers failed to score again and Jose Leclerc coughed up the lead in the top of the 9th by giving up a 2 run shot against Marcus Semien. Elvis choked again by grounding into a game ending double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th. Andrus pretty much lost this game by himself. Loss 5-3

Game 2 – Joe Palumbo made his MLB debut for the Rangers, and looked good until the 4th inning when he gave up 4 runs. Thankfully for him, the Rangers offense went off and put up 10 runs. Mazara had 3 RBI, as did young catcher Tim Federowicz, who is filling in for injured Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Asdrubal Cabrera also had 2 RBI. Choo had 2 walks and runs. Jeffrey Springs gave up a run in his relief appearance. But Phillip Valdez shut the door in the 9th to close the one-sided game. Paul Blackburn got the loss for the A’s. Win 10-5

Game 3 – Adrian Sampson continues to prove himself as a young starter. He pitched a complete game 1 run masterpiece. His breaking ball was very effective and kept the A’s off balance. Chris Bassitt lasted 5.2 IP for the A’s and 3 runs were all the Rangers needed behind Sampson. Delino, Danny Santana, and Jeff Mathis all had an RBI. Beltre had his number retired in this game. Win 3-1

Game 4 – Clueless Drew did it again the final game of the series. Smyly went 3 IP and gave up 5 ER. His partner in crime Shelby Miller came in and gave up 3 ER over one inning. The two talentless frauds put the game out of reach in 4 innings and the potent Rangers attack, which ranks 2nd in average runs scored in the MLB, could not come back. Rougie Odor had a great day. He had 3 hits and a walk. He also stole home. Choo, Pence, and Guzman had 2 hits. Cabrera had 3 RBI along with Rougie. It was not enough. As usual, when Clueless Drew starts, the team was put in a huge hole and struggled to comeback. Jose Leclerc managed to give up a run in appearance, and his inconsistency has been a huge problem this year. Leclerc was supposed to be the closer, but he lost the job and continues to look equal parts unhittable and inconsistent. Loss 9-8

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
6/10   @Red Sox     6:10 p.m.
6/11   @Red Sox     6:10 p.m.
6/12   @Red Sox     6:10 p.m.
6/13   @Red Sox     6:10 p.m.
6/14   @Reds           6:10 p.m.
6/15   @Reds           6:10 p.m.
6/16   @Reds          12:00 p.m.