Texas Rangers: Mike Leake
Tepesch (3-6, 4.60): Tepesch ended a rough three-start stretch by matching St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright pitch for pitch in the Rangers' 2-1 victory on Sunday night ... Tepesch didn't get a decision, allowing a run in 5 2/3 innings ... He had five shutout innings before allowing a leadoff home run to Matt Carpenter to start the sixth inning ... Tepesch has dominated right-handed hitters, limiting them to a .198 batting average, the sixth lowest mark in the American League ... He is winless in seven starts, matching Yu Darvish's current stretch and the longest this season by a Rangers' starter ... The Rangers are 6-8 in Tepesch's starts ... He has received one or zero runs of support in five of his last seven outings ... Tepesch is 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA in two interleague starts this season.
Leake (7-3, 2.61): The 25-year old right-hander and former first-round draft pick out of Arizona State is having the best season of his young career ... Leake is 2-2 with a 2.97 ERA in nine starts against AL teams ... Leake is on an awesome run of late, going 5-1 with 1.31 ERA that began on May 15 ... He had a 16 2/3 inning scoreless streak from May 15 to May 27 ... Leake retired the first 17 batters he faced in Saturday's start at Arizona befofe allowing a double to pitcher to Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin and a two-run home run by Gerardo Parra ... Leake has walked two or less batters in his last 10 starts ... He has never faced the Rangers.
Hitters: Tepesch has never faced the Reds. Lance Berkman and Geovany Soto are the only Rangers who have faced Leake. They are a combined 2-for-23 with a triple.
First up, the pitching-rich Cincinnati Reds, who will test the Rangers with three talented starters -- Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Mat Latos.
Here's what to watch for:
|ESPN senior MLB analyst and former GM Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly segment to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Strong starters: Cueto, Leake and Latos have a combined record of 18-5 with a 2.91 ERA. Yes, the Rangers have a difficult test in front of them. The Reds as a team have a 3.52 ERA, fifth best in the majors. The Rangers' 3.67 team ERA is seventh best. Cueto (4-1, 3.21), who starts Friday against Martin Perez, comes off of his worst start of the season, allowing seven runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings at Arizona. Leake (7-1, 2.61) and Latos (7-1, 3.05) have both been on terrific roles.
Bruce is producing: Reds right fielder Jay Bruce, who hails from Beaumont, Texas, is in position to have one of the best seasons in Reds franchise history. He is on pace to produce 50 doubles, 37 home runs and 114 RBIs. Only 17 players in major league history have produced seasons of at least 50 doubles, 35 homers and 100 RBIs, including the Red's Frank Robinson in 1962. Bruce is tied for 10th in the majors with 18 home runs. He is fourth in doubles with 24. And he's tied for 11th with 55 RBIs.
Cruz hot, too: The Rangers' Nelson Cruz is right there with Bruce, making this a marquee matchup of right fielders. Cruz is tied for sixth in baseball with 20 home runs and is ninth in RBIs with 57. Cruz and Bruce both have a .525 slugging percentage, which puts them in the top 20 in the big leagues.
Baker still winning: Reds manager Dusty Baker enters Friday's game as the 16th winningest manager in major league history. Baker has won 1,626 games, second-most among active managers (Detroit's Jim Leyland has 1,718 wins, ranking 15th all-time). Nine of the 14 winningest managers are in baseball's Hall of Fame. Baker's teams have won five division titles in his 20 years as a skipper. He is one of six managers to win division titles with three different teams.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.