Each Thursday, we will look back at the week that was for the Texas Rangers and then preview the weekend series.
When it Rains, it Pours
While the team itself has been treading water in the standings, they received more bad news for the 2014 season as both Matt Harrison and Martin Perez went on the disabled list. Perez is facing a possibility of Tommy John surgery while Harrison is looking at spinal fusion surgery that could put his career in jeopardy.
Where does the team go from here?
In the short term, it means that Nick Tepesch takes Perez’s spot in the rotation and Nick Martinez fills in for Harrison. This only puts a piece of chewed gum on a dam leak as Robbie Ross has given up 17 runs in his last three starts (all Rangers losses).
In the long term, the staff will get back Derek Holland, but they would need more reinforcements than the southpaw as Colby Lewis is far from a sure thing at this point in his career.
2014 looks bleak and depending on if you’re a glass half-full or half empty type of person will determine how you take the following sentence:
It’s only May.
The team’s best hitter this month is still Shin-Soo Choo as he maintains a 1.058 OPS and leads the team in walks with eight. Mitch Moreland is 9-for-19 in May with a slash line of .474/.474/.526. The other two Rangers hitters batting over .300 in May are Prince Fielder (.333/.420/.452) and Elvis Andrus (.313/.358/.417).
Among the starters, Yu Darvish is the only pitcher with an ERA under four (1.80 in May). Recent addition Nick Martinez relinquished his first run this month in 6.2 innings of work when Matt Dominguez hit a walk-off RBI double to end Wednesday’s game. That snapped an 11.2-inning scoreless streak for Martinez.
Who’s Ice Cold?
I mentioned Leonys Martin last week in this section and he continues to struggle with a .179/.220/.256 slash line in May. Adrian Beltre has the most home runs for the team this month (three), but is only hitting .229/.288/.458.
Alexi Ogando continues to struggle as he has a 13.50 ERA this month and has given up eight hits in 3.1 innings. Ross’ struggles were mentioned above as he allowed 11 runs in 12 innings (8.25 ERA) and only struck out four hitters.
This weekend the Rangers take on the Toronto Blue Jays who enter Thursday’s game against Cleveland with a 20-20 record. They primarily rely on their explosive offense, as it ranks fourth in runs and second in slugging percentage.
The team is led by Jose Bautista, who has 10 home runs and a .989 OPS. Mark Buehrle is the ace of the staff with a 7-1 record and 2.04 ERA.
7:05 p.m., Friday: RHP Yu Darvish (3-1, 2.33) vs. RHP Drew Hutchinson (1-3, 4.37)
Darvish’s start against Boston last Friday was must-see TV as he had the best stuff of his career. His slider was nasty and his fastball was 95 mph with movement. He went 8.2 innings, gave up one two hits and 12 strikeouts against the defending World Series champions. With that start, Darvish now has three starts this season where he pitched at least seven innings and gave up zero runs.
Hutchinson is a 2009 15th round pick by Toronto who hasn’t won a start since April 1, against Tampa Bay (first career start). The 23-year-old rookie went only 4.1 innings against the LA Angels as he gave up three runs and four walks in a 9-3 loss in his last outing. He throws a 94 mph four-seam fastball while mixing in a slider, sinker and change.
7:05 p.m., Saturday: RHP Colby Lewis (3-2, 4.99) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (7-1, 2.04)
Lewis was magnificent on Monday night in a 4-0 win over Houston. He went 5.2 innings, gave up seven hits, zero runs and struck out eight for his third win of the season. With the rotation struggling to keep guys healthy, Lewis becomes the No. 2 starter and needs to find consistency the rest of the season.
Buehrle has 13 consecutive seasons of 200-plus innings and is 193-143 with a 3.81 ERA in his career. He is a workhorse that has three Gold Gloves, three All-Star appearances and finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting in 2005 when he helped the White Sox win a World Series. This season, he is has only given up more than two runs in a start once (April 25 vs. Boston). Like Darvish, he has gone at least seven innings and gave up zero runs in three starts this season.
2:05 p.m., Sunday: LHP Robbie Ross (1-4, 5.04) vs. RHP R.A. Dickey (4-3, 4.53)
Before the injuries of Perez and Harrison, Ross was destined to return to the bullpen, but now he must refocus and pitch like he did in his first five starts (1-1, 2.45 ERA) and not like his last three starts (17 runs in 15.1 innings). He did settle down in his last start against Boston after giving up three runs in the first innings as he went on to pitch 6.2 innings.
The former Ranger and knuckleball pitcher, R.A. Dickey, hasn’t lost since April 17 against Minnesota. Since that game, he has seen his ERA drop from 6.26 to 4.53. In Globe Life Park, Dickey is 12-11 with a 5.94 ERA in 22 career starts (47 appearances).
While the season is in jeopardy, it is still early and Jurickson Profar and Holland will be back soon. This weekend, they will be hard-pressed to win the series as the Darvish start is the only near guarantee win.
Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.