The Rangers spent the entire season in first place. They used a lethal offense and solid starting pitching to hammer teams into submission. The first hammer blow fell when Jacob deGrom went down. The best pitcher in baseball blew his arm out, leaving a gaping hole atop the rotation. Former Red Sox ace Nathan Eovaldi shouldered the burden through the month of May, but the run of God tier performances cost him as he too went down with an arm injury. Thus the Rangers added at the deadline. Starting pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Mad Max Scherzer were acquired at the deadline to help reinforce the battered staff. Martin Perez regressed to the mean as expected this season and was thus moved to the bullpen where he belongs. He carries the unique distinction of derailing two different Rangers pennant runs in two different decades.
The additions at the deadline helped until more cataclysmic injuries occurred. All-Star catcher Jonah Heim hurt his wrist and was rushed back. He has been ineffective since his return minus one grand slam that was squandered. Excellent rookie Josh Jung hurt his wrist too a few days later. His injury was more severe and sidelined him for six weeks. Jung was exceptional and was on pace to win Rookie of the Year. Jung proved he will be a very good third baseman for years to come with his play this season. He mashed at the plate and improved his defense tremendously. The impact of losing Jung and Heim cannot be overstated. Both are top end players crucial to the Rangers success. Jung has been replaced by the incredibly raw youngster Zeke Duran. Duran does not really play third, as his slapstick routines at the hot corner often attest to. Sam Huff and Mitch Garver have been asked to take over at the dish for Heim. Neither can throw anyone out.
The Rangers biggest weakness is their bullpen. Jonathan Hernandez forgot how to pitch. Will Smith has been inconsistent. So has Aroldis Chapman. Josh Sborz is a total coinflip: either awful or great. Brock Burke has gone downhill a bit. Names like rookie Grant Anderson and terrible Glenn Otto come after that. The bullpen really is that shallow. The Rangers added Chris Stratton at the deadline to try to stop the bleeding. Jose Leclerc has been solid after he remembered how to pitch. The bullpen is very weak. The Rangers have blown more saves than they have converted this season. That is not a hyperbole like saying there is no bass in …And Justice for All. That stat really puts in perspective how bad the bullpen is. Remember when the Rangers traded Emmanuel Clase for one inning of Corey Kluber? Good times!
The Rangers got swept in Milwaukee. The first game was a mess. The Rangers were hammered and allowed the Brewers to score nine runs. The Rangers feigned a comeback late but lost 9-8. The offense never showed up in the subsequent games. The Rangers lost both of those.
The opening game against the Diamondbacks was a repugnant disgrace. Jordan Montgomery went 8 scoreless before being wrongfully yanked. After 92 pitches Monty sat on the bench as his 1-0 masterpiece was blown by a hanging Aroldis Chapman splitter. The Rangers of course went onto lose in extras. Monty’s brilliant performance could have stopped a miserable losing streak, but was frittered away. The Rangers kept bleeding like Beavis after he experimented with a table saw. The Rangers lost three more after that disgusting choke. The Rangers managed to beat the Twins after Mad Max turned in a stellar start. The next day they wasted a 5-0 lead and lost the rubber match to the Twins. The game ended in a macabre, depressing fashion like Deathnote. Jonathan Hernandez lost his control and walked 3 straight batters, including the winning run. The final six pitches were not close. Hernandez has struggled with his command all season. He was sent back down to AAA after this performance. Glenn Otto will replace him. That was akin to much of the change in our country: one awful thing is swapped out for another under the guise of progress.
After getting embarrassed in Minnesota, the Rangers finally found a team that were bigger losers than they were: The Mets. The Mets wasted a good start by Tylor Megill and lost the opening game late. The Rangers were lucky the Mets lacked their lockdown ace closer Edwin Diaz. Diaz hurt himself in the World Baseball Classic celebrating. The Mets would have been doomed regardless. They are a joke franchise famous for following a flash in the pan year with disappointment. The Mets won 101 games last season, which makes their loser status all the more funny. The Mets are a meme; a punching bag for baseball fans to take vicarious, cathartic swings at.
“At least we don’t cheer for the Mets,” MLB fans across America can be heard saying.
The Rangers are lucky they have such a putrid, substandard joke team to try to right themselves against. The Mets began the season with the highest payroll in baseball history. They ended the trade deadline with a two year rebuild plan. The Mets might have failed horrifically this season, but at least their owner, Steve Cohen, has the stones to actually try to win. Many MLB owners are spending the bare minimum and wasting young talent. Cohen actually wants to win and is willing to spend the money to do so. This should be commended, even if the execution was particularly Metsian.
The Rangers suffered a Metsian collapse of their own in August. An entire season of hard work was wasted as the Mariners surged to make the AL West a three team race. The Rangers will be in a dog fight for the rest of the season. Every game matters. This is a true pennant race. The Mariners, once forgotten and written off, have surged upon the scene and entered the top of the AL West standings as the Astros and Rangers swoon in the Texas heat.
The Rangers will attempt to compete with the hottest team in baseball and the favorite to win the AL with a diminished offense, no bullpen, and their ace on the shelf. It will be a massive task to win the AL West this season for the Rangers.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
8/29 – @Mets – 6:10 p.m.
8/30 – @Mets – 5:40 p.m.
9/1 – vs Twins – 7:05 p.m.
9/2 – vs Twins – 6:15 p.m.
9/3 – vs Twins – 1:35 p.m.
9/4 – vs Astros – 3:05 p.m.
9/5 – vs Astros – 7:05 p.m.
9/6 – vs Astros – 7:05 p.m.
9/8 – vs A’s – 7:05 p.m.
9/9 – vs A’s – 6:05 p.m.
9/10 – vs A’s – 1:35 p.m.