Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.
Maybe yesterday's game left a bad taste in your mouth. Final scores that look like the result of a very sloppy spring high school football game tend to do that. But, in the large scale of things, a team that is so decimated by injuries they had to call up a 20-year-old shortstop to replace a fifth outfielder solely because there were no other healthy forty-man roster members available just won five out of seven from teams that believe (to varying degrees of reality) that they belong among the AL's contenders.
Things aren't great. Things could be a lot worse.
And who are you, the proud lefty said, that I must bow so low? Only Sox of a different color, that's all the truth I know
Friday's game centered on the herculean effort of twenty-three year old Martin Perez, who gave the Rangers his finest showing as a professional (and arguably the best start yet of the Rangers' season). Allowing four baserunners (three by hit, one by walk), none of who would score, while striking out eight. In his last two starts, Perez has pitched 17 innings, with eight hits, one walk, 10 strikeouts, and zero runs allowed. And he's Ranger property into the next decade, at which point he'll be twenty-nine years old.
He's kind of a big deal, is what I'm saying, despite being listed at 6-feet, 190 pounds. And someone who is literally a big deal, to the tune of about 100 pounds more than Perez, is Prince Fielder. Prince was on base four times on Friday, once via a double. It might be a slow process, but the dynamic, middle of the order lefty is emerging from the shell of the weak-grounder-into-the shift Prince we've had so far.
Said transformation was also noted in Saturday's game, as Prince finally took advantage of the home run porch in right field for his second homer of the year, which gave the Rangers a lead they wouldn't relinquish. That's a minor subplot, compared to the triumphant return to the pitcher's win column for Colby Lewis.
I've argued several times in this space that pitcher's wins are one of the worst stats we make the mistake of counting. That they're full of noise, that they communicate very little info, that the have a scary tendency to obscure greatness and mediocrity alike.
Disregard all of that. Colby getting a win was special. Let's do that another fifteen or sixteen times.
Robinson Chirinos caught both the first and second games of the series, in which a total of three runs were scored. Robbie Ross had to have some choice words when he got to the park and found out he was getting JP Arencibia rather than Chirinos.
Speaking of junk stats, catcher's ERA (cERA) is also a very, very bad one. Pretty much, you can take everything bad people who hate advanced metrics say about advanced metrics and apply it to cERA. We stat guys got too cute, and we're sorry. That said, JP Arencibia has a 5.03 catcher's ERA, and Robinson Chirinos has a 2.33. Just this once, I'm going to choose to believe that means something (it really means nothing, but we can all pretend).
By any measure you can find, Arencibia has been one of baseball's worst players. His fWAR mark of -.4 is one of the worst in the league, which is pretty amazing because he's accumulated that in only 32 plate appearances. And his batting average is .067, which is awfully close to just getting called a rounding error and saying it's zero. He's been real, real bad.
Which is another amazing thing, that the team has absorbed a nearly-historically bad performance amongst all the other flotsam and jetsam, and yet still they float rather than drown.
I'm stuck in Oakland prison... and time keeps, drrrrrraggin' on
The team heads to current AL West leader Oakland for a three-game set starting tonight. Yu Darvish faces off against Dan Straily. Darvish has (somewhat) struggled against the A's: in games against Oakland, Darvish has allowed a .733 OPS. That might not sound like much (that's Omar Infante's OPS this season. You scared of Omar Infante?), but his total line is .628 against the league as a whole. Meanwhile, Straily has had good success against the Rangers (.637 OPS against).
The key stat? Darvish is 27-3 when he gets at least three runs of support. Just score, guys, Yu's got the rest.
Tuesday's game will feature Nick Martinez versus Tommy Milone. Milone and Martinez have combined for three starts this year, so the stats aren't going to carry a lot of weight. The Rangers have stacked up a team .819 OPS against LHPs this year, so let's go with that.
Wednesday's game will feature Martin Perez, who I expounded upon my love for above, versus Sonny Gray. Gray, 25, is the owner of a 1.80 ERA and a 23:9 K:BB ratio. This is a prime matchup of very young, talented pitchers who could be facing each other for a long time (assuming Oakland doesn't get all trade-y again soon). As well, this could be the game that sees Craig Gentry face the Rangers for the first time, so things could get emotional.
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.