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Looking back and looking ahead: Youth of a nation

Looking back and looking ahead: Youth of a nation

Credit: Getty Images

Starting pitcher Miles Mikolas #36 of the Texas Rangers throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 2, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

by EDDIE MIDDLEBROOK

WFAA Sports

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 3 at 11:34 AM

Each Thursday, we will look back at the week that was for the Texas Rangers and then preview the weekend series.

The Rangers are in a midst of 20 games in 20 days and as we near the halfway point of this stretch, the team is 2-7. With the Astros nipping on the heels of “Real Texas Baseball,” it is officially time for the youth movement as Joe Saunders was DFA’ed and Miles Mikolas made the Wednesday start. We have four weeks until the trade deadline. Who stays and who goes remains to be seen.    

Hello New York!   

On Thursday, the Rangers will wrap up a four-game series with the Orioles before traveling to Queens to play the New York Mets for the weekend. The Rangers have only played three series against the Mets all time and only once in New York back in 2008. Texas leads the all-time series 6-3.

Like Texas, the Mets are struggling as they sit in fourth place of the NL East. Their team offensive stats all rank in the bottom half of the majors, but their pitching staff is solid as the team ERA ranks 11th (3.60).

First Baseman Lucas Duda leads the team in home runs (12), RBI (41) and OPS (.811). Jonathan Niese leads the team in ERA at 2.88 while 41-year-old Bartolo Colon leads the team in wins with eight.  

6:05 p.m., Thursday: RHP Yu Darvish (8-4, 2.42) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (7-3, 4.19)   

After two struggling starts on the West Coast, Yu was at his best against the Twins on Saturday as he went eight innings, gave up four hits and struck out 10 in a 5-0 win. He is third in the AL in ERA (2.42) and fourth in strikeouts (128).

Chen struggled in his last start against the Rays, in which he lasted just 3.1 innings, and gave up five runs including three home runs. Before that 5-4 loss he hadn’t taken a loss since May 3. Chen features a 93 mph four-seam fastball while mixing in a slider, sinker, 92 mph two-seam and curve.

6:10 p.m., Friday: RHP Nick Tepesch (3-3, 4.65) vs. LHP Jonathon Niese (5-4, 2.88)

Tepesch had his best start of the season against the Twins on Friday, as he went 7.1 innings, gave up three hits and struck out five. In his last four starts, Nick has given up four runs, zero, four and zero. If this pattern continues, it won’t be a good day for Texas.

Niese has won his last two starts and has lost only once since mid-May. He has gone at least six innings in each of his last six starts. Jon focuses more on command than velocity as he features a 90 mph four-seam, 89 mph two-seam and a cutter.    

6:15 p.m., Saturday: RHP Colby Lewis (5-5, 5.71) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.88)

Lewis had his first quality start since 2012 on Sunday in a 3-2 loss to Minnesota. He only allowed two runs in six innings while striking out eight. In his last two starts, Colby has been more like his old self as he has 14 strikeouts and zero walks.

Prior to his last start against the Pirates where he gave up five runs in six innings, Colon gave up two runs or less in his prior seven starts. His repertoire centers around an 89 mph two-seam and a 92 mph four-seam.        

12:10 p.m., Sunday: RHP Nick Martinez (1-6, 5.10) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (3-8, 4.25)

In any normal year Martinez would be pitching against AA batters, but instead he is trying to figure things out at the Major League level. As a fan it can sometimes be frustrating to watch, but he is learning a lot and this experience should benefit him down the road.

Wheeler allows the fifth most walks in the NL, but opponents are only hitting .256 against him this season. He struggled against the last AL West opponent he faced (Oakland on June 25) as he lasted only two innings and gave up six runs. He has fared much better against NL teams (3.44 ERA) than AL.  

Prediction           

The Rangers should win Yu’s start, but will find it difficult to win a game in New York this holiday weekend.            

Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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