Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.
I've always thought the English language has several inefficiencies to it. I mean, it's not as bad as German, where they're still doing gender pronouns in the 21st century - it's more that there's gaps where there's fairly common shared experiences we all have that don't have a common word or phase that could be used to describe it.
The good thing about our language is we're flexible enough to identify these and fill in a good phrase when we find them. The phrase 'déjà vu' is only a little over a hundred years old - for the hundreds of years English existed before its introduction, there were people struggling to put together words to describe “I have this weird feeling that this same thing has happened before but I can't recall enough of the specifics about it.” Then we stole déjà vu from the French, and we were better for it.
This is all to say, specifically, we're lacking a phrase to describe something that's really, really bad but then something so great happens at the end that it redeems all the other junk before it. We should probably steal whatever we're going to use from either Farsi or Japanese; because Yu Darvish.
Oh it woulda been, shoulda been worse than you would even know; the rotation melted, but we still have Yu, you know
The best way to sum up Friday's game is this: The Rangers started Colby Lewis, the Nationals started Stephen Strasburg. I haven't been shy about my affection for Colby Lewis, but you also have to acknowledge what he is; that's not a guy who's going to win a game when Strasburg is pitching for the other side. Lewis got 17 outs, but he allowed 11 men to reach base, six of them to score. Strasburg allowed seven men to reach, six via hit and one via walk. After Robbie Ross allowed three of his own to score, the final tally of 9-2 effectively displayed the performance of the two teams.
The best way to sum up Saturday's game was this: The Rangers started Nick Tepesch, the Nationals started criminally underrated Doug Fister. Tepesch, who had been effective since washing out of the rotation competition in Spring Training, lasted only two innings for one of the Rangers' worst starts of the year. Saturday's game was probably one of the season's low points; nothing was working well for the Rangers. Tepesch had nothing, the defense was bad, and the offense looked like it was a team realizing they had Mitch Moreland as their #3 hitter. Scott Baker sponged up five innings that probably weren't as bad as the five runs he allowed; he struck out seven while only walking one but allowed a three-run homer to Adam LaRoche and a two-run homer to Scott Hairston. By the time the team scratched its first run on the board via a Rougned Odor double driving in Alex Rios, Nationals fans were already planning on ordering Papa John's on Sunday (I guess DC has Papa John's? And I guess they give half price pizza after the Nats score seven runs? I normally do quite a bit of research on stuff like this but even I can't make myself care enough to Google that.)
I could put in a snarky line here about the Rangers starting Darvish on Sunday and the Nats starting Tanner Roark, but the truth is Roark's been a more effective pitcher for DC than anyone other than Darvish has been here. You may remember Roark as a former Rangers farmhand who was traded to Washington late in 2010, for Christian Guzman. Guzman was a luxury item, only here to soak up innings at second base while Ian Kinsler luxuriated on the disabled list prior to the postseason. Guzman played fifteen games, giving the Rangers a .378 OPS (good enough for a 1 OPS+. One. The number one. Just a single OPS+. 1/100th of average). Meanwhile, Roark took a few years to make the jump to the majors, but has given Washington 116 innings at a 1.44 ERA over the last two seasons. Would the Rangers benefit from having a 27-year-old starter giving them seventy innings this season? Yes. Yes they would.
Flags fly forever, but the cost of those flags hover just above the ground for a long, long time too.
Roark loving aside, he wasn't nearly good enough to beat Darvish. In joining the theme of the weekend, the Rangers scored only 2 runs for the third straight time; but when your team pitches a shutout, two runs feels like riding in a limousine made of jury duty dismissals. Darvish struck out 12 while only walking two and allowing five hits. After 102 pitches in the eighth, he probably had enough gas in the tank to close the game out and be rewarded with the complete game shutout he deserved; however after a leadoff double by Chris Gimenez, the team wasted a scoring opportunity by having Luis Sardinas strike out bunting foul, then pulled Yu Darvish for a pinch-hitting Shin-Soo Choo, thereby necessitating Joakim Soria to pitch the ninth.
NL baseball is bad and should go away. Pitchers shouldn't hit. It's 2014, people.
Hey, what's new in Baltimore? I don't know.
After an off day on Monday, the team returns home to match up against the Orioles for a three game set. Tuesday's game features a marquee pitching matchup of Joe Saunders opposite Bud Norris. No, I'm kidding, that is not a marquee matchup unless we're in some post-apocalyptic wasteland, which, judging by the Rangers' injury history this year, we may be. Norris isn't particularly good at striking batters out (40 K's in 62.1 innings) but he makes up for that by walking a few too many batters (20 walks, 2.9 BB/9 IP) and allowing a few too many homers (7, 1 per 9 IP). He's also hit 7 batters in his 62.1 IP this year. If you were giving Bud Norris his annual review, you would probably highlight his attendance and cleanliness as his strengths.
Thursday's game will feature Nick Martinez facing off against Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez has pretty well matched his career averages this season, striking out 8.6 per nine innings (career mark is 8.3), walking 4.5 per nine (career mark is 4.1) and allowing .9 homer per nine innings (career is .7). At least Baltimore is getting what they paid 50 million dollars for this offseason, which should remind us all we chose the wrong career and we should all be MLB starting pitchers with intact UCLs.
Finally, Thursday will see Miguel Gonzalez of the Orioles match up against Colby Lewis. Gonzalez is strange because as a right-hander he's actually more effective against lefties (not unlike the Rangers’ own Neal Cotts, who despite being used recently as a left-handed specialist, is actually a better weapon against righties than lefties). Gonzalez has allowed a .744 OPS against from right-handed batters, while left-handers have a .692 OPS against. Gonzalez does a good job of suppressing power from LHB; they've only slugged .377 against him, and hit 15 home runs in 719 plate appearances. However, he does walk lefties; he's walked 66 of the 719 he's faced. In other words, Choo should probably keep the bat on his shoulder on Thursday.
Thursday also marks the first day of the 2014 draft. This is noteworthy not just because the team has added Joey Gallo and Travis Demerritte in the past two drafts (who've combined to hit 33 home runs this year; if you add their ages up, you get 39) but also because once it's began, Kendrys Morales is free to sign without draft pick compensation. Morales fits exactly what the Rangers need, in that he has a discernible ability to hit a baseball and has no apparent life-threatening disease or condition. Depending on the vagaries of how insurance for injured ballplayers works (and that's a pool I don't want to dip my toes into here), it's possible the team has the funds available to add Morales to either supplant Moreland as a first basemen or as a DH. Either way, Morales is the most available bat with the best chance of making any impact; I'd feel better with him here than in New York. Supposedly the Brewers, Yankees, and Mariners are interested as well.
Joseph Ursery can be found here and on twitter.com at @thejoeursery.His main interests include fatherhood, craft beer, facial hair, and twenty-year-old middle infielders with patience and power. Oh, and cover songs, too. He really likes cover songs. “No particular reason why,” he says, but WFAA feels like there's more to this story.