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Series #41: Athletics vs Rangers - Red Hot Rangers Looking to Spoil

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers’ Current Record:

56-70, last place in the AL West. The Rangers’ record is better than every other last place team’s record, most by a significant margin, and the Rangers have one of the top five records in baseball since the All Star Break, and have been second best in the division to the A’s

Possible Lineup:

Shin-Soo Choo - DH

Rougned Odor - 2B

Adrian Beltre - 3B

Elvis Andrus - SS

Nomar Mazara - RF

Joey Gallo - LF

Ronald Guzman - 1B

Isiah Kiner-Falefa - C

Drew Robinson - CF

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Bartolo Colon - RHP/questionable

Mike Minor - LHP/questionable

TBD/Opener

Recent Bullpen Usage:

Strong pitching on Sunday afforded the bullpen some extra rest, as no reliever threw more than twelve or so pitches during that game. The Rangers have done a strong job of distributing innings among their relievers.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Texas’ offense has been on fire in the season’s second half, and has been the main source of the Rangers’ post-ASB success. Leading that charge on offense is Rougned Odor, who was one of the worst regulars in baseball last season. Odor has the most extra base hits on his team over the last month-plus, and his OPS is a staggering 1.120 while playing good defense on an up-the-middle position. Joey Gallo has hit ten home runs in his last twenty five games and has a slugging percentage of .670

Coldest Hitter(s):

It is starting to look like the beginning of the end for Adrian Beltre, who has been slowed down by several injuries this season, including a recent hamstring issue, and over his last twenty games or so he is barely surpassing the .300 OBP clip and is slugging under .400. Fortunately for the Rangers, Beltre’s intangibles haven’t been diminished, and he is still one of the best veteran leaders in the sport.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

The Rangers’ pitching has been a lot less impressive than the hitting. Injuries are a large part of their problem, but also a lack of talent is. Mike Minor has been effective when his body has permit him to take the field, but other than him the only other starter in Texas’ rotation with an ERA under four is Yovanni Gallardo. In the bullpen, Jose LeClerc has been nearly lights out. If he enters a game, it is bad news for the A’s.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Martin Perez’s struggles have been long documented, but so far in the second half he has been the Rangers’ third best performing starter. New additions like Drew Hutchison have yet to find their footing in Texas, and the team’s veterans, like Bartolo Colon, are breaking down quickly. Both aforementioned starters have had ERAs above seven over the last month. Beyond LeClerc in the bullpen, the unit is marred with inconsistency and bad pitchers.

Key Injuries:

Texas has been unfortunately unlucky in the health department, with all corners of the roster impacted by injuries, the team never really having a chance to put the roster they worked hard to assemble all together on the field. Though Adrian Beltre is returning to the starting lineup once again, that lineup will be missing Delino DeShields and Ryan Rua. Doug Fister is out for the season, forcing the Rangers to strongly mull over switching over to an opener to fill in the gap that Fister left.

* * *

After a week of taut, tight affairs against AL Western rivals, the Texas Rangers may prove to be the toughest competition yet. The Rangers have been playing like one of the better teams in all of baseball for over a month, thanks in large part to a nearly unstoppable offense. The Rangers have been the best hitting team in all of baseball this half of the season, scoring nearly thirty more runs than the next closest opponent and scoring a full fifty runs better than the A’s. They also lead all of baseball in home runs during this time.

The A’s pitching has been phenomenal lately, but this series could very well be their toughest test of the season. There aren’t many weak spots in that lineup, and the damp evening air at Rickey Henderson Field may not be of much help with containing the power the Rangers have put on display. Having said all that, Texas’ rotation is in shambles right now, with no confirmed starters for this series due to injuries and general ineffectiveness. The A’s ability to score big in this series cannot be denied, and they very well may have to if they want to continue to win every series between now and the end of the season.

Game #125: Monday, August 20th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW, MLB.tv

Mike Fiers vs Bartolo Colon

There is a non-zero chance that Big Sexy will miss his start, or at least be pushed back another day or so, due to back soreness. The ageless wonder may finally be reaching the end of his rope, but will long be an icon to the green and gold, and baseball everywhere. Mike Fiers has been better than advertised in his first couple of starts with his new team, quickly inserting himself into the conversation to be the guy in a winner-take-all playoff game.

Game #126: Tuesday, August 21st, 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSSW, MLB.tv

Brett Anderson vs Mike Minor

Anderson has been pitching like its 2010 again, only giving up two earned runs over his last three starts. It is worth noting that his recent string of success has correlated with a significant dip in his slider usage, surprising considering his slider is his best pitch. Correlation does not equal causation, and his changes in his approach could simply be noise and not significant, but Anderson may very well have changed himself as a starting pitcher and is now reaping all the benefits. Mike Minor is questionable for this start, the Rangers obviously hoping that he is healed up enough by game time as he is their best pitcher.

Game #127: Wednesday, August 22nd, 12:35 - FB Watch

Edwin Jackson vs ???

The Wednesday matinee will be broadcast via Facebook, a first for the A’s this season. Those who tune in will be able to witness Edwin Jackson continue to defy age and physics with his new and sharp cutter. The Rangers have been increasingly mulling over the idea of using an opener like so many other teams in baseball, and Wednesday could potentially mark the first Ranger opener appearance.