Thursday, July 18, 2013
Midseason report: Texas Rangers
By Todd Wills
At the All-Star break, here are how the Texas Rangers are trending:
Five promising signs
1. Through his first 56 games, 39 of which he had started, Leonys Martin was batting .252 with .305 on-base percentage. He went 3-for-4 in a game on June 16 in Toronto and has started all but one game since. In his past 26 games, Martin has hit safely in 22 of them with a slash line of .330/.384/.462. He has two home runs, six RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
2. Martin Perez saved the Rangers' rotation in the three weeks before the All-Star Game with the Rangers facing the toughest part of their schedule. Perez beat the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, allowing four earned runs in 19⅔ innings. The Rangers are 4-1 in Perez's starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on June 22.
3. Joe Nathan is 30-for-31 in his save opportunities this season, putting him on pace for 51 saves. That would break the club record of 49 saves set by Francisco Cordero in 2004. Nathan also had a save in a high pressure situation in Tuesday's All-Star Game, preserving a 3-0 American League win.
4. All-Star right fielder Nelson Cruz went into the break on a tear, batting .333 with two home runs, five doubles, 10 runs and 11 RBIs. Cruz has taken to the No. 3 spot in the lineup since Lance Berkman's injuries, and has a slash line of .313/.349/.495. Cruz has four home runs, six doubles and 21 RBIs.
5. Derek Holland has been the anchor of the Rangers' starting rotation, or at least right there with Yu Darvish. Holland has allowed four runs or less in 18 of his 19 starts. He has eight wins, tying Darvish for the team lead. That's a career best for wins prior to the All-Star break.
Five red flags
1. Elvis Andrus' disappointing season ended with a 1-for-16 stretch. Andrus isn't expected to hit for power, but his .280 slugging percentage is the lowest among all qualifiers in the American League.
2. Several key arms in the bullpen will be helped by the four-day break, including left-hander Robbie Ross, who allowed seven runs in his last 7 1/3 innings leading up to the All-Star Game. His biggest struggles came against left-handers, who were 7-for-14 with three home runs against Ross leading up to the break.
3. Alexi Ogando has already been on the 15-day disabled list twice this season, and even though he is on the verge of pitching again Tuesday against the New York Yankees, he's still a worry, just because the Rangers need him in the rotation. Ogando has missed nine starts because of injuries (see Holland's 19 starts). Ogando is 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA, so his staying healthy the rest of the season could make him a trade deadline acquisition.
4. Anything the Rangers get out of Lance Berkman will be a bonus, at least he feels that way as he deals with a left hip injury. He's eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but that's not happening. Berkman's power numbers while batting left-handed were a big red flag. He hadn't hit a home run left-handed since May 11, a stretch of 38 games before he landed on the DL.
5. If David Murphy's season seems like it has been one roll over to second after another, it kind of has been. Murphy has grounded out to second base 46 times, accounting for 19 percent of his outs. He has more ground outs to second than strikeouts (40). And lastly, seven of Murphy's nine double-play balls have been on ground balls to second.