Texas Rangers: Coming Up Soft

Rangers SP Dane Dunning has struggled as of late and is now on the injured list. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Wiley Singleton

The Rangers traveled to Citi Field to take on the New York Mets. The Mets fired their dopey demo hire skipper Luis Rojas during the offseason and are currently being skippered by Buck Showalter. William Nathanial “Buck” Showalter III was given his nickname due to his love of walking around the clubhouse buck naked. Buck managed the Rangers for a few seasons, notably during A-Rod’s last season in Texas and the subsequent season when the Rangers made a real run at the division. Buck’s managing style is “old school,” but that is not to say he plays an outdated style. Being “old school” means doing things right. Getting the runner over. Making the clean double play. Catching a fly ball with both hands. Hitting to the opposite field when a shift is on. Starting pitchers going deep into games. Buck took a backwards, laughing stock organization that translated to “mediocrity” in Spanish and made it a pennant contender.

Game 1 – Corey Seager and Kole Calhoun both went 0-4 this game. Glen Otto started for the Rangers. He was ineffective, lasting 4 IP and giving up a backbreaking three run homer in the 4th inning. The Rangers tried to battle back from the 1-4 deficit, but these are not the Mets meme squads of yesteryear. They actually have a bullpen. Closer Edwin Diaz has been lights out. Adam Ottavino found his peak form again. Drew Smith has been excellent. As has Seth Lugo, their one reliable holdover. They also used former Ranger Joely Rodriguez to great effect in this game. Despite a Nate Lowe homer the Rangers fell short in this one. Loss 4-3.

Game 2 – Martin Perez turned in a quality start against Trevor Williams, who was ineffective. Josh Smith had 2 hits at the top of the order playing third base. The third base issue is glaring. Culberson is pretty much useless. Andy Ibanez is useless. Top prospect and former Texas Tech 3rd baseman Josh Jung is still recovering from injury. Eli White could play some 3rd but is hurt. Brad Miller can sort of play 3rd, but can’t hit lefties. 3rd base is one of the biggest holes on the team at the moment. Kole Calhoun was brilliant in this game, amassing 4 RBI. Win 7-3.

Game 3 – The rubber match of the series was important to the season. It could have built momentum and determined who would win the series. So naturally the Rangers did not show up. Jon Gray was average. 5.2 IP, 3 ER. His defense was garbage behind him. Nate Lowe is a talented, versatile player that hits the ball to all fields. He is decent at scooping hopped throws to first. But sometimes he looks deeply uncoordinated and goofy when fielding his position. The Rangers do not have the pitching to give away outs. They do not have the offense either.

Another flaccid one run performance makes you wonder what is being said in the clubhouse before these rubber matches. The team has looked DOA for so many crucial games, one must question the quiet leadership styles of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. This is a team that clearly has talent but is wildly inconsistent. The most reliable thing they do is lose big rubber matches they really need. If you want to gamble on the Rangers, that is the edge you should seek. It is worth noting the Rangers missed the Mets two stud righty aces, Jacob deGrom and Mad Max Scherzer. Both are banged up and expected to return for the Mets stretch drive. Mad Max will lead them to a division title while deGrom re-injures himself. At that point talks of “moving deGrom to the bullpen” will start to take hold. deGrom is a great case study in the uptick in pitcher arm injuries in baseball: he throws full tilt, 100% on every pitch. Pitchers never used to do this. Roger Clemens said last night on Sunday Night baseball “I could throw 100, but not pitch at that velocity.” 

“Normally I would be at around 93-94, but when a hitter like A-Rod came up I dialed it up 97,” added the Rocket. 

Pitchers these days do not understand this. They go full tilt 100% of the time, often with explosive force and speed. This causes extreme wear and tear on the arm and leads to the insane amount of Tommy John surgeries we have seen over the past decade. deGrom is the perfect example of a guy who has nasty, top tier stuff like Clemens but has no idea how to pace himself.

deGrom has gone on record multiple times talking about how he can’t hold anything back and finds it difficult to pace himself. This is the main reason he cannot stay healthy. It is a great shame, when active he is easily a top three pitcher in baseball and has been that good for years.

Disaster in Baltimore

Game 1 – The Baltimore Orioles were every writer’s pick to finish last in their division. They have been putrid in the past few seasons. But after some high draft picks they are approaching mediocrity. The crux of the issue, as ever, is pitching. The O’s, who used to have the worst pitchers in the AL, now boast a stable of solid young arms. They can also hit pretty well, which they could do even when they were bad.

The game began with Dane Dunning throwing mid tier sinkers at thigh level and having a ton of balls put in play against him. The Rangers have several weak points at defense. 1st is suspect with Lowe. Seager the 325 Million Dollar Man plays subpar defense, which should give Rangers fans pause when considering his age and length of contract. If Seager already looks this bad defensively in his prime, what will he look like in 7 years when he still has 3 years of his deal left? Seager getting that 10 year deal then hitting .240 for the first half of the season makes me miss A-Rod’s tenure in Texas. That’s right, I said it. 

The Rangers were up 5-2 in the 5th when the wheels started coming off. Dane Dunning gave up a solo shot, a couple base hits, then a clownish Nate Lowe error let in 2 runs to tie the game at 5. Dunning is a “sinker baller” who throws the ball too high consistently, gives up too many homers, and expects his bad defense to play well behind him. It is no mystery why he is 1-6. It is time for Dane Dunning to develop an out pitch. 

Marcus Semien had a solo shot in the top of the 9th to make it 6-5 Rangers. Enter Joe Barlow. Barlow blew the lead nearly instantly with his patented mix of hanging sliders and fastballs over the middle of the plate. Barlow’s incompetence is the defining factor in the last 3 weeks of Rangers struggles. He has been a dumpster fire of a closer and would be quickly demoted after another of his 9th inning dog and pony shows. 

The game ended in the 10th when the Rangers failed to score their gimmick runner. The O’s loaded the bases against Matt Moore, who drilled a guy in the hip to lose the tie game. Loss 7-6.

Game 2 – This game was a shot for shot remake of game one in the same way that Caddyshack II was a remake of Caddyshack. It hit the same plot points of the previous one, including: falling behind early, getting the lead back, hilariously blowing it, having former Rangers scrub Rougie Odor show you up, and a Joe Barlow blown save. Barlow is the Jackie Mason of the Texas Rangers: everytime I see him I roll my eyes and know some people are going to find what is about to happen very funny but it’s really just grating and loathsome. Loss 10-9

Game 3 – The O’s had not swept a team in a year and the Rangers needed to salvage the final game of the series. The O’s tuned up the Rangers like they were the shitbirds, the Western District Way. Not since the death of Omar the Terror has there been such a tradegy in B-More. Loss 2-1.

The body bags were loaded into charter planes and lugged back to DFW to take on the talented Minnesota Twins. 

Game 1 – Sonny Gray was cruising with a 3-0 lead entering the bottom of the 5th. The Rangers squeaked out a couple hits and the inning rapidly got away from Gray, who took the last chopper out of Saigon to watch his mess become a game-defining 6 run inning. Adolis “El Bombi” Garcia had 3 hits. Seager had 2 and 3 RBI to boot. Semien went 0-4 but it did not matter. The Rangers made 3 errors in this contest, including another by Lowe and Seager. Lowe’s errors are often laced with comedic value, like a good Mets September collapse. Seager’s are just maddening. The Rangers knocked out a good pitcher to take the lead in this one. Their bullpen was razor sharp. Garrett Richards, Brock Burke, Dennis Santana, and Brett Martin all contributed a scoreless outing. Brett Martin, the hard throwing lefty, came in to close the game. He is presumably the closer now, at least until he blows a few in a row then they can give the job back to Jose Leclerc, who is still trying to find his old form after blowing out his arm and recently rejoining the team. Win 6-5.

Game 2 – Martin Perez started this game. He is the Rangers only All Star. He was ineffective. 6 IP, 6 ER. Mitch Garver hit 3rd despite announcing he was done for the year with his forearm injury.  Presumably he wanted to play against his old team before getting season ending surgery. Garver is a catcher with pop that cannot stay healthy. At least we did not end up with Gary Sanchez. Semien popped off in this one. Two hits and a walk, four RBI. Kole Calhoun had three RBI. Win 9-7.

Game 3 – A sweep would have been big here to wash out the fowl (wordplay) taste of the Orioles sweep. Seager and Brad Miller both had 2 hits. Dane Dunning was awful. He lasted 2.1 IP and looked demoralized. The game was 3-3 at one point in the 2nd, but the double 0-4 performances of Garcia and Lowe from the 4 and 5 hole made this one unwinnable. Matt Bush looked shaky again this outing. For a former Shortstop he sure does make a lot of bad throws to the bases. He threw a ball down the right field line on a pickoff attempt that led to disaster and ultimately the game losing run. Lost 6-5.

This is a vexing, inconsistent team. The next article will be the All Star Break review, in which I will do a detailed deepdive into how the Rangers players have been doing so far. The title of that article will probably be “.240: The Season.”

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
7/11   vs  A’s   7:05 p.m.
7/12   vs A’s   7:05 p.m.
7/13   vs A’s   7:05 p.m.
7/14   vs Mariners   7:05 p.m.
7/15   vs Mariners   7:05 p.m.
7/16   vs Mariners   3:05 p.m.
7/17   vs Mariners   1:35 p.m.