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
It seems like a lifetime ago when the Rangers had accomplished a 7-4 road trip as they have now lost four of five games and fallen to 32-34 on the season. In the Cleveland series, the team was outscored 32-16. To make matters worse, Texas is only 1.5 games ahead of Houston for fourth place in the AL West.
It remains to be seen when Derek Holland will be ready to contribute, and now Mitch Moreland is out for an extended amount of time due to an ankle injury. He is not the only position player to be bothered by a bad ankle as Shin-Soo Choo is also dealing with an ankle that prevents him from being an everyday outfielder. Over the last 28 days, Choo is hitting .169/.324/.277.
Tanner Scheppers is headed to the disabled list for a second time this season with the ambiguous diagnosis of “elbow inflammation.”
A few positive notes: Alex Rios (.329) and Adrian Beltre (.323) are both in the top five in the American League in batting average, at third and fifth, respectively. Yu Darvish is third in the AL with a 2.11 ERA after his complete game shutout Wednesday.
Sleepless in Seattle
On Friday, the Rangers will begin a nine-game road trip against AL West foes (Seattle, Oakland and LA Angels). In this crucial stretch, it is a shame that Yu Darvish will only pitch in one start (Tuesday, June 17 vs. Oakland).
Heading into their game versus the Yankees on Wednesday night, the Mariners are 34-30 and are only two games behind the Angels and 4.5 behind the Athletics. Their success is attributed to their pitching staff, as they are seventh in MLB with a 3.39 ERA (Texas is 29th with 4.60). As imagined, Felix Hernandez leads the team in wins (eight), ERA (2.39), strikeouts (106) and WHIP (1.01).
Seattle’s offense has struggled, as they are 17th in runs, 26th in batting average, 29th in on-base percentage and 25th in slugging percentage. Kyle Seager leads the team in home runs (nine) and RBI (39) while offseason acquisition Robinson Cano has a team-leading .333 batting average.
9:10 p.m., Friday: RHP Nick Tepesch (2-2, 4.91) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (8-1, 2.39)
What has happened to Tepesch? In his last two outings, Nick has given up at least four runs after only giving up six runs combined in his first three starts. In his last start, Tepesch gave up eight hits and four walks in 5.1 innings of an 8-3 loss to Cleveland. Hopefully he will be able to get back on track against Seattle. On May 21, Tepesch won a 4-3 decision against the Mariners, as he went 6.1 innings, giving up five hits and three runs to get the victory.
Hernandez hasn’t lost since April 21 against Houston. Seattle has won his last seven starts and he has five straight starts where he has given up two runs or less. His kryptonite has been the Rangers throughout his career as he has a 12-20 record with a 4.11 ERA in 41 starts.
9:10 p.m., Saturday: LHP Joe Saunders (0-2, 3.60) vs. RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 5.97)
Coming into the season, who would’ve thought that in June, Joe Saunders would be the second-best pitcher on the staff? That says more about the depletion of this staff than the ability of Saunders. Despite allowing 17 hits and five walks combined in his last two starts, Saunders has only surrendered five runs. Somehow, he has pitched good enough to win his last three ballgames, but little to no run support has squandered any chance of that. For Saunders, he knows Safeco Field well as he pitched for Seattle last season when he went 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 183 innings.
Ramirez is slated to start on Saturday, but he has only pitched 7.2 innings total in his last two starts after being recalled from Tacoma. In his last start, he only gave up four hits in 4.2 innings, but walked five. On April 17, Ramirez lasted only two innings against Texas as he gave up five runs in an 8-6 defeat.
3:10 p.m., Sunday: RHP Nick Martinez (1-3, 4.63) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (4-3, 2.79)
Martinez has struggled in his last three starts as he has given up 16 runs in 13 innings. In his last start on Monday, he lasted only two innings as he gave up six hits, three walks and eight runs in a 17-7 loss to Cleveland.
While Hernandez has struggled against Texas, Iwakuma has fared much better as he is 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts against the Rangers. On May 20, he won a 6-2 decision against Texas as he went eight innings and only gave up two runs. In eight starts this season, he has pitched at least seven innings in six starts and has three starts where he didn’t relinquish a run.
If the Rangers want to remain in the playoff race, they will need to win against their AL West foes, but they will struggle to win a single game against Seattle this weekend.
Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be on Twitter @emiddlebrook.