7/21-7/24 Series Preview: Texas Rangers

Yankees let McCarthy get back to being himself with the cutter
Teixeira out 3-4 days with mild lower lat strain
This is how the Rangers' season is going. (Leon Halip/Getty)
This is how the Rangers’ season is going. (Leon Halip/Getty)

The Yankees have taken care of business so far in the second half. They swept the Reds over the weekend and now welcome the last place Rangers to the Bronx for a four-game series. It is their first meeting of the season. These two teams will play seven games in the next ten days, so the scheduling gods have been kind to the Bronx Bombers.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Rangers dropped two of three to the Blue Jays in Toronto over the weekend, and, immediately before the All-Star break, they lost eight straight and 22 of 25 (!). These aren’t the same Rangers that won back-to-back AL pennants a few years ago, that’s for sure. Texas is 39-59 overall with a -110 run differential, both of which are the worst marks in baseball.

Offense
With a team 89 wRC+ and an average of 4.14 runs per game, the Rangers have had a below-average offense overall this season. Their lineup has been decimated by injuries though, so this isn’t the same lineup manager Ron Washington was trotting out there earlier in the year. Texas has 14 players (!) on the disabled list right now, including six position players. Among the notables are 1B Prince Fielder (neck), 2B Jurickson Profar (shoulder), 1B Mitch Moreland (ankle), and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (back). All four are done for the year. Here is the full list of injuries, if you’re interested.

At least he can play defense. (Cooper Neill/Getty)
At least he can play defense. (Cooper Neill/Getty)

Among those still left standing, Washington does have one top notch hitter in 3B Adrian Beltre (145 wRC+). His defense isn’t as good as it once was — that means it is merely very good instead of elite — but he can still rake. OF Alex Rios (103 wRC+) is day-to-day with an ankle issue but is expected to avoid the disabled list and return to the lineup sometime this week. OF Shin-Soo Choo (100 wRC+) has been very disappointing in his first year with Texas. OF Leonys Martin (92 wRC+) has been okay and OF Jake Smolinksi (142 wRC+) is their only other above-average hitter, and he has all of 36 plate appearances.

SS Elvis Andrus (77 wRC+) has regressed at the plate these last two seasons and his eight-year, $120M extension doesn’t even kick in until next year. Sure, he’s great defensively, but yikes. 2B Rougned Odor (90 wRC+) has shown flashes of why he was considered a top prospect coming into the season. Journeymen IF Adam Rosales (71 wRC+ in limited time) and OF Daniel Robertson (65 wRC+ in limited time) are helping cover for the injuries. Texas is carrying four (!) catchers at the moment: C J.P. Arencibia (23 wRC+), C Chris Gimenez (90 wRC+), C Robinson Chirinos (84 wRC+), and C Geovany Soto (just off the DL). Arencibia has been playing first base and Soto’s been spending time at DH after knee surgery. Can’t say this is the scariest lineup the Yankees will see this year.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. TEX) vs. RHP Miles Mikolas (vs. NYY)
Injuries have hit the Rangers’ rotation hard as well, which is why Mikolas, a career reliever, is now in the rotation. The 25-year-old will be making his fourth start with Texas tonight — it is his tenth start of the season and 21st of his six-year career overall, so he is their Chase Whitley — and he’s pitched to a 10.05 ERA (4.11 FIP) in the first three. Mikolas has a dozen strikeouts and three walks in 14.1 innings so far, also allowing two homers. His numbers in six Triple-A starts before being called up were alright: 3.58 ERA (3.36 FIP) with a 7.99 K/9 (20.4 K%), 0.83 BB/9 (2.1 BB%), and 0.83 HR/9. Mikolas heavily uses his low-90s two and four-seamers, throwing them roughly 85% of the time combined, while mixing in a handful of low-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs.

Tuesday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (No vs. NYY)
Martinez, 23, jumped straight from Double-A to the Opening Day roster thanks to the various injuries on the staff. He has a 5.10 ERA (5.99 FIP) in 67 innings across eleven starts and five relief appearances while issuing more walks (4.16 BB/9 and 10.2 BB%) than strikeouts (3.90 K/9 and 9.5 K%) and not getting any ground balls (31.5%). Martinez is also pretty homer prone (1.61 HR/9 and 10.3 HR/FB%) and lefties (.415 wOBA) hit him hard, though righties (.350 wOBA) don’t have much trouble either. A low-90s four-seamer is his primary fastball, though he will also throw a few low-90s two-seamers and upper-80s cutters per start. Martinez’s two secondary pitches are a slider and a changeup, both in the mid-80s.

(Rick Yeatts/Getty)
Two fewer MLB complete games than Masahiro Tanaka. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP David Phelps (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (vs. NYY)
It’s a four-game series, so the odds were against the Yankees missing Darvish. The 27-year-old is in the middle of his best MLB season with a 2.88 ERA (2.75 FIP) in 18 starts and 122 innings, and of course he has piled up a ton of strikeouts (11.36 K/9 and 30.5 K%). His walk rate (3.10 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%) is his lowest in three years with Texas and so is his ground ball rate (33.9%). Darvish’s homerun rate (0.74 HR/9 and 7.8 HR/FB%) is probably lower than it should be given his grounder rate and home ballpark. Lefties (.323 wOBA) have been much more successful against him than righties (.239 wOBA). Darvish throws six different pitches and uses his mid-80s splitter and slow upper-60s curveball the least, just a little more than 9% of the time combined. He throws his low-90s four-seamer, low-90s two-seamer, upper-80s cutter, and upper-70s slider regularly. The slider is devastating. That’s his moneymaker. Darvish will be a handful on Wednesday.

Thursday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (vs. NYY)
Lewis, 34, is having an awful season (6.37 ERA and 4.10 FIP in 17 starts and 89 innings) for an awful team and the frustration is starting to boil over — he ripped Colby Rasmus for bunting to beat the shift in the fifth inning of a two-run game following his last start. That’s as silly as it gets. Lewis’ strikeout (7.89 K/9 and 18.5 K%) and walk (2.93 BB/9 and 6.9 BB%) rates are fine, his homer (1.11 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) and ground ball (33.1%) rates aren’t. Same goes for his platoon splits: lefties have tagged him for a .443 wOBA while righties have a comparatively better .352 wOBA. At this point of his career, Lewis works with an upper-80s four-seamer and a low-80s slider as his two main pitches. He’ll also throw a few low-to-mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs per start.

Future Tiger. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Future Tiger. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like I said, the Yankees and Rangers will play seven times in the next ten days, and there’s a decent chance Texas will trade closer RHP Joakim Soria (0.84 FIP) and LHP Neal Cotts (2.63 FIP) at some point during that stretch. They already traded away RHP Jason Frasor (to the Royals) and those two are said to be on the block. RHP Neftali Feliz (6.48 FIP in limited time) was recalled from Triple-A not too long again and figures to retake the closer’s job once Soria is traded.

The rest of Washington’s bullpen includes RHP Scott Baker (4.69 FIP), LHP Ryan Feierabend (2.80 FIP in very limited time), RHP Roman Mendez (2.99 FIP in limited time), RHP Shawn Tolleson (4.94 FIP), and RHP Matt West (2.39 FIP in limited time). Baker is the swingman and has four relief appearances of at least five innings this year. He’s the first pitcher to do that since Tom Bolton had five such relief appearances for the 1993 Tigers. Tolleson, Feliz, and West all pitched yesterday. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ relievers, then check out Lone Star Ball for everything you need to know about the Rangers.

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Yankees let McCarthy get back to being himself with the cutter
Teixeira out 3-4 days with mild lower lat strain
  • Winter

    This is the rare team whose starting rotation is in even worse shape than the Yankees’. Let’s hope they take advantage of a chance to grab some wins against the worst team in baseball.

    • I’m One

      They still have their #1 starter, though. The Yankees are only better due to depth and the trade for McCarthy.

      • Winter

        The Yankees have gotten 8.4 WAR from their starters. Tanaka’s been worth 3.2 WAR, so they’ve gotten 5.2 WAR from their non-Tanaka starters. The Rangers have only gotten 5.9 WAR from their starters, including Darvish, who has been worth 3.7 WAR.

        • I’m One

          Proves my point. The Yankees are only better due to depth and the trade for McCarthy.

          • bpdelia

            Right. But….. Yeah. The Yankees are better. Because they have better pitchers. Not sure what your point is. Is there another way to be better other than having more good pitchers?

            The Yankees have better pitchers and more of them.

            Therefore they are better.

            I don’t really get what you were trying to communicate there.

          • RetroRob

            Actually, I think he did not prove your point.

  • TheRealGreg

    Well you know Mikolas will shut us down tonight just because that’s the way this season has been going.

    I say a split, although it could be 3 of 4.

    • trr

      I know how hard it is to sweep a 4 game series from any team, but Texas seems ripe for the picking. A split, to me, is unacceptable if we truly want to challenge for the division. In this series, 3/4 is the bare minimum.

  • Jerry-NJ

    Nick Martinez from Fordham! First Rams big leaguer since Pete Harnisch!!

    • I’m One

      Go Rams! (But hopefully his current team loses to the Yankees.)

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Really hope something clicks and Adrian realizes he doesn’t want to leave the stadium…

    • TheRealGreg

      It would have to be a big package, I think.

      • Mandy Stankiewicz

        And I hear Cashman is hung like a Stallion.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I read it more as a request for Beltre to be teabagged by Dellin Betances as part of any deal.

    • Winter
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    B-b-b-ut Jurickson Profar is so can’t miss and we should be willing to trade the entire farm for such a fine young player….

    I wonder if Ranger fans looked at the pitching matchups for the series on, I don’t know, the Sons of Dubya Bush blog, and think the same things about our guys that I’m thinking of theirs right now.

    At least they’ve still got Darvish. BGDP will SHOCK THE WORLD against him. Mark that down. In permanent ink.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      GIMME A B!

  • Jacoby Eddardsbury

    Anything less than 3 out of 4 against the hapless Rangers would be a failure. Greene and McCarthy have been brilliant and they have the match up advantage. Whitley is going against a guy just as awful. Joe gave the ball to BGDP first to start the 2nd half knowing that he’d be matched up with Darvish. It’s not as big of a mismatch as you think.

    O’s are out west vs Angels and M’s. Yanks are home vs hapless Rangers and the Jays who haven’t won in NY since 2012. If they don’t gain ground now they never will.

    • I’m One

      If they don’t gain ground now they never will.

      Right, because … I don’t know why.

  • TheRealGreg

    By the way, we are 3 wins away from 10,000 wins as a franchise. The Yankees would be the quickest team to accomplish that feat.

    • Yankee$

      I wonder which human being has been employed by the Yankees (player, coach, other employee) to have seen the most franchise wins. Any guesses Pete Sheehy? Bob Sheppard? Phil Rizzutto? Mel Allen?

  • Scott

    It would be nice for the offense to put up 6+ runs in at least 3 of these games (I would be happy with 3 against Darvish) and give the starters some breathing room. This really should be a beat down 3 out of the next 4. Which means only one thing: Reverse Lock – the Yanks win only 2 of 4, one of the wins being against Darvish.

    I’m really hoping to see Pineda pitch again this season. I’m also hoping it is without pine tar.

    • I’m One

      Or at least without pine tar the other team or TV cameras can see.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I’m sensing a business idea. You in?

        • Yankee$

          Let’s Close!

      • ac1

        At least something less obvious, like the powder on the hat, or some sort of clear goo a la Buchholz.

    • JLC 776

      If McCann wasn’t such a ethically sound guy, he’d be keeping it behind his shin guards like every other catcher in the league.

  • Mr. Miyagi

    Sato…what has happened to you?

    Lost 22 out of 25?

  • JLC 776

    How is it that we’re living in a world where the Astros aren’t the worst team in Texas? At least for now…

  • ac1

    Tex out 3-4 days? Again? Does anyone have more minor nagging injuries than he does?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I guess this means another visit from “No 2013 Again”‘s not-so-alter ego.

      • ac1

        Tex may be hitting .240, but he really makes the lineup deeper. It sucks how often he misses 3-4 days at a time. Bring up Pete O’Brien and let him crush a few between strike outs.

  • bw1tz

    Would it be worth it to look at a trade for Alexis Rios (assuming his injury is not serious) or, would calling up Almonte be provide pretty much the same production?

    • ac1

      They need to bring Almonte and actually let him play everyday. He never gets it together because Joe’Romine’s’ him…

  • bw1tz

    I hate bunting but, I hope the Yankees bunt everytime the shift is put on and Rasmus is pitching. Shades of the Dallas Braden and his “No one walks over my mound!” idiocy.

    • ac1

      Rasmus was the bunter. Lewis was the buntee…..

      • bw1tz

        I apologize for letting this comment thread down

        /Tanaka

  • Lehman College Rocks !!

    Please mr cashman

    get for us Yu Darvish !