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Series #20: Athletics at Rangers - Ground to be Gained

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers’ Current Record:

25-37, last place in the AL West. They are just 11-19 at home on the year, and just 12-20 against AL West competition. They are 3-4 versus the A’s specifically, though the two division rivals haven’t faced each other since April.

Projected Lineup:

LF - Shin-Soo Choo

3B - Isiah Kiner-Falefa

RF - Nomar Mazara

DH - Adrian Beltre

SS - Jurickson Profar

2B - Rougned Odor

C - Robinson Chirinos

1B - Ronald Guzman

CF - Delino Deshields

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Matt Moore - LHP

Bartolo Colon - RHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

The Rangers had the day off yesterday, like the A’s, and only briefly used reliever Alex Claudio the day before, so the Rangers’ red hot bullpen will be primed to put out any fires the A’s start during this series.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Nomar Mazara has been the best hit for Texas all season, but he has been particularly hot over the last week of ballgames. The versatile outfielder has an OPS of 1.189 over the last week of games, hitting two home runs and scoring five runs in six games played. Joey Gallo has reached base in nearly half of all his plate appearances during the same time frame.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Despite working a handful of walks, Delino Deshields is hitless over the last week. Since his return from the disabled list, Adrian Beltre has continued to struggle to hit for power, and just hasn’t been the Hall of Fame slugger the opposition is accustomed to seeing.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Cole Hamels has been the sole effective starting pitcher for the Rangers, so naturally, with the Rangers quickly falling out of contention, he is considered trade bait with the season firmly in its second act. He has a .227 opponents’ batting average against and a 3.63 ERA on the year. Conversely, just about every single relief pitcher in Texas’ bullpen has been on fire over the last month of play, with five different pitchers possessing ERA’s at two or below, including former Athletic Jesse Chavez.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Matt Moore has surrendered sixteen runs in seventeen innings in last four starts, with a WHIP north of two. Former A’s fan favorite Bartolo Colon started off rather strong with Texas, but was rocked in his last start, giving up six runs in three innings pitched, and has an ERA hovering around 5.50 over his last five starts.

Key Injuries:

Adrian Beltre has returned to the starting lineup in a half third base, half DH role, but hasn’t gotten his bat started just yet. Elvis Andrus is due to return from his elbow injury in the middle of this month, as he has been out of the lineup since early May. Various starting pitching candidates are also on the DL, such as starting pitchers Martin Perez and Tim Lincecum. While Perez is out indefinitely with elbow troubles, Lincecum’s blister issues are sure to be fixed and will force the Rangers to have to make a decision about their big league roster shortly.

* * *

The A’s won their first road series of June against the Royals, but didn’t exactly light the world on fire in the process. The offense has continued to sputter, save for a recent and long-awaited power eruption from Matt Olson, and the starting pitching staff got thinner still with potentially debilitating, long-term injuries to both Daniel Gossett and Kendall Graveman, who join Andrew Triggs, Paul Blackburn, Brett Anderson, Jharel Cotton, and a bevy of near-ready prospects as starters on the DL. The A’s are going to have to dig deep and play better ball to compete right now, even with the team entering the “soft” part of its schedule. With the Astros and Mariners squaring off against each other, and the Angels just one and a half games ahead of Oakland in the standings, should the A’s play well, there is ground to be gained in the standings.

The Rangers are in the process of getting healthier themselves, but at this stage are likely too far out of any playoff spots to contend, so the trade rumors that come with the circumstances are starting to rise, particularly around staff ace Cole Hamels. However, once Beltre rediscovers his groove and Andrus gets back to manning shortstop every day, the lineup looks a lot deeper than it does now, and Texas will still be plenty capable of putting many runs on the board and playing spoiler for at least one of the other four teams in the division with playoff hopes and dreams.

Game #61: Tuesday, June 5th, 5:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW

Sean Manaea vs Matt Moore

Both lefties would probably want to put the entire month of May behind them, as neither starter has been effective at all over their last bunch of starts. On what is sure to be a hot night in Arlington, the ball is sure to be live, so each team will potentially have to get extended use out of their well-rested bullpens.

Game #62: Wednesday, June 6th, 5:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW

Daniel Mengden vs Bartolo Colon

Mengden has been getting stronger and stronger as the season has progressed, and has been far and away the top performing starter on the team this year, recently pitching twenty five consecutive scoreless innings before giving up a couple of runs in the eighth inning of his last start. Colon has been trending in the other direction, the cracks really starting to form in his armor, but will always be beloved in Oakland and will be lovely to square up against regardless of the outcome of his start.