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Series #33: Athletics at Rangers - A’s Hope Texas Heat Warms Bats

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers’ Current Record:

42-58, last place in a strong AL West. They are 20-30 at home, and just 14-26 against other teams in the division.

Projected Lineup:

Shin-soo Choo - RF

Rougned Odor - 2B

Elvis Andrus - SS

Adrian Beltre - DH

Jurickson Profar - 3B

Ryan Rua - LF

Robinson Chirinos - C

Ronald Guzman - 1B

Delino DeShields - CF

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Cole Hamels - LHP

Mike Minor - LHP

Martin Perez - LHP

Bartolo Colon - RHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

The Rangers’ starting pitching got knocked around in their most recent series against the Indians, but since Texas employs a proper long reliever, the bullpen avoided crisis and wasn’t completely overtaxed. While most relievers ought to be available for this series, especially with the All Star Break in the very recent past, it will be important for Texas to get some length from their starting pitching this series.

Hottest Hitter(s):

After spending a few years looking broken and beaten down at the plate, Shin-soo Choo is having a revival of a season. The slugging outfielder just had a fifty two on base streak snapped over the weekend and has been a total force at the top of the lineup for the Rangers, carrying a lineup that has decent power, but few other players who stand out. After being one of the worst regulars in the majors last season, Odor is showing that patience may have been a smart decision, as his OPS has been well over .900 during the last month.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Elvis Andrus began this season hotter than just about anyone, but he has really faded since getting injured and spending time on the DL. In his last twenty games, or so, he hasn’t hit a single home run and has an OPS of just .609 while batting in the middle of the order. Adrian Beltre is showing signs of aging for the first time in his storied career, as well.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

The Rangers tried to cobble together a starting rotation out of discarded and spare parts from other teams, and it has been painfully mediocre collectively this season, with relatively unsung prospects like Austin Bibens-Dirkx outperforming veterans like Cole Hamels in a small sample. The real heroes for the Texas pitching staff has been a strong bullpen, following a similar profile as the A’s, Mariners, and Angels within the division. Keone Kela and Jake Diekman have been the key standouts at the back of the pen, so naturally their names have been appearing in trade rumors.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Matt Moore never fully bounced back from Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago, and the left hander’s grasp on a rotation slot is tenuous at best, his ERA north of seven. Martin Perez, in an injury shortened season, has been worse, with an ERA over 7.50 and a WHIP over two.

Key Injuries:

The Rangers are an aging team, and as such have been dealing with injuries left and right all season. Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus each missed substantial time, causing a hole in the left side of the infield, and currently sluggers Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara are banged up and likely going to miss time in this upcoming series. A rash of injuries has also beset itself upon the pitching staff, as key relievers Matt Bush and Tony Barnette are now on the 60 day DL.

* * *

These are the games that the A’s have to continue to win for the team to have a hope and a prayer for the postseason. While there are still questions surrounding the starting pitching for the A’s, rumor has it that the A’s are kicking the tires around the league to see about bolstering their rotation. The team already added to its dominant bullpen with a win-now trade for Jeurys Familia while not sacrificing any key prospects, though the price tag for a starting pitcher will be more significant. Whatever course the team chooses to take to finish out the season, just being back in a playoff race is nice.

This season has not gone according to the Rangers’ plan, and the time for Texas to start its rebuild may be now. With a strong bullpen, the Rangers have a bevy of valuable trade chips, not to mention the Cole Hamels’ and Bartolo Colon’s of the world who could fetch decent returns as well. The Rangers already have a talented young position player core, complemented with veteran leadership from some the likes of Adrian Beltre and Shin-soo Choo. This team isn’t far away from competing once more, and a savvy trade season and off season could pave the way to a winning 2019.

Game #101: Monday, July 23rd, 5:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW, MLB.tv

Brett Anderson vs Cole Hamels

Anderson’s time as a starter on the A’s may be limited, and how he performs during Monday’s start may have lasting implications. With Daniel Mengden and Frankie Montas due to return to the rotation, and with the bullpen currently only employing one left hander, Anderson can still provide a value in a reduced role with the big league club outside of the rotation. While Hamels is the Rangers’ ace, he has just been an average starter for Texas this season, and so long as Oakland stays patient there is the potential to put up a couple of crooked numbers

Game #102: Tuesday, July 24th, 5:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW, MLB.tv

TBD (but probably Frankie Montas) vs Mike Minor

The A’s will have to make a decision of who to call up for Tuesday’s game, as both Mengden and Montas have been staying sharp through the All Star Break while pitching in Nashville. While Montas has gotten better results at the big league level this year, Mengden’s control and “stuff” has been superior. Mike Minor has been inconsistent as a starter this season, and if he’s off, even just a little, the A’s have a chance to flex their muscles against him.

Game #103: Wednesday, July 25th, 5:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW, MLB.tv

Edwin Jackson vs Martin Perez

Edwin Jackson has been a very pleasant surprise in his short tenure in Oakland, only giving up more than two runs once this year, in his last effort against the Giants, and even then he only gave up three runs. On the other hand, Martin Perez, after years of solid performance in Texas, has been an injured and ineffective mess this season. His ERA at home this year is 10.05.

Game #104: Thursday, July 26th, 5:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW, MLB.tv

Trevor Cahill vs Bartolo Colon

When he’s been healthy, Cahill has been the best starting pitcher for the A’s in 2018, even with Sean Manaea’s no hitter and dominant April. Cahill’s pitches are filthy enough to where he is amongst the leaders in wild pitches uncorked since last season, but his offerings have been just as hard, if not harder, to hit than they are to catch/block. Colon has been gradually losing effectiveness as the years continue to pile on, but his ability to still produce at the big league level is a testament to his tenacity and the kind of athlete he is.