Each Thursday, we will look back at the week that was for the Texas Rangers and then preview the weekend series.
Your Texas Rangers are 9-16 since the All-Star Break and fighting tooth and nail with the Colorado Rockies for the first pick in next year's draft. The team has lost four of its last five games and on Wednesday, Yu Darvish was placed on the DL with elbow tendinitis. LHP Robbie Ross was recalled Thursday to take his place in the rotation.
Post All-Star Break, utility man Adam Rosales leads the offense as he is hitting .310/.459/.655 in 16 games. Fourth outfielder Daniel Robertson is leading in batting average at .356 while J.P. Arencibia has once again found his power as he leads the team with seven home runs.
Reliever Roman Mendez has been a bright spot in the bullpen with a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings of work. Colby Lewis has been the best starter as his second-half ERA is 2.51 ERA in 32.1 innings.
The Rangers try to salvage a split with the Rays on Thursday as they complete their four-game series. On Friday, Texas welcomes the second-place Angels to town.
Los Angeles (70-49) enjoys the second best record in MLB behind Oakland (73-47), and they are tied for third in run differential (+86). They feature the best player in the game, Mike Trout, who leads their team in batting (.294), homeruns (27), RBI (85), runs (81), OPS (.952) and many other categories.
Thankfully, the Rangers miss 13-game winner Jered Weaver on this trip, but will have to square off against the Angels' ERA and strikeout leader, Garrett Richards, on Friday night.
7:05 p.m., Thursday: LHP Robbie Ross (2-4, 5.61) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-9, 3.89)
Ross hasn't pitched in the big leagues since June 16, but he will get another shot in the rotation thanks to Darvish suffering an elbow injury this week. In his last five starts at Round Rock, Robbie went at least six innings (including a complete game on Aug. 2) and only allowed more than two runs on one occasion.
Odorizzi has won four of his last five starts and has seen his ERA drop from 4.73 to 3.89 over his last 10. Last Saturday, he threw six shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over the Cubs. Odorizzi is fifth in MLB with 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He primarily relies on a 92 mph four-seam fastball and splitter while mixing in a slider and curve.
7:05 p.m., Friday: RHP Nick Martinez (2-8, 5.22) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (12-4, 2.54)
In his last start, Martinez won his first start since May 24 as he went five innings, gave up two runs and struck out six Houston batters. He faced Tampa Bay on April 5 (his first career start) and took a no-decision as he pitched six innings and gave up three runs in a 5-4 defeat. On the season, Martinez has 44 strikeouts to 40 walks and opponents are hitting .299 against him.
Richards is having a sensational season for the Angels as he ranks in the top 10 of many categories in the AL: wins (8th), innings pitched (9th), strikeouts (7th), ERA (6th) and WHIP (5th). Los Angeles is 7-3 in his last 10 starts including a 3-0 victory over Texas on July 11. In that game, Richards pitched seven shutout innings and struck out eight batters.
7:05 p.m., Saturday: RHP Colby Lewis (8-9, 5.42) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (10-4, 3.89)
As mentioned above, Lewis has been the best Rangers starter since the All-Star Break. In August, he has a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings of work, and has won two of his last three starts. The last time he faced the Angels he had a historically poor pitching performance: 2.1 innings and 13 runs (11 earned) in a 15-6 loss on July 10.
Shoemaker is a 27-year-old rookie who is 6-3 in his last nine starts, including a 5-2 win against Texas on June 22. In August, he has a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings. Shoemaker has 87 strikeouts in 90.1 innings on the season and opponents are hitting .266 against him.
2:05 p.m., Sunday: RHP Nick Tepesch (4-7, 4.29) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.59)
Tepesch has strung together two solid starts in a row against the White Sox and the Rays. He has only given up two runs over 12.2 innings and his ERA has dropped to the lowest it has been since early July. The last time he faced the Angels he took the loss, but had a quality start as he went six innings and gave up three runs on July 11.
Santiago hasn't received a loss since June 15, but the team has lost his last two starts against the Dodgers and Red Sox. Against Boston, he pitched six shutout innings and only gave up two hits. On July 10, he defeated Colby Lewis as he went six innings and gave up four runs (three earned) while striking out eight Texas hitters.
Ross pitches well on Thursday, but still takes the loss. This weekend, the Rangers are able to salvage one victory as Lewis continues to pitch well.
Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be found on Twitter@emiddlebrook.