Via Jon Heyman: The Rangers and Tigers have agreed to a trade that will send Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler. It’s a one-for-one swap and the Rangers will get some cash as well.. The trade has some affect on the Yankees since the Tigers and Rangers were potential suitors for Robinson Cano, moreso the former. Detroit now has a second baseman and the Rangers just took on a huge contract that runs though 2020. Hot stove!
Via Andrew Marchand: The Rangers called the Yankees and asked about Robinson Cano‘s availability earlier this season, but New York told them he wasn’t available and talks never got off the ground. We heard some unknown teams inquired about Robbie before the trade deadline.
Cano, 30, hit .314/.383/.516 (142 wRC+) with 27 homers in 160 games this season, his seventh straight year of at least 159 games played. The Yankees have already offered him a seven-year, $161M contract and figure to climb higher to get a deal done at some point this winter. A half-season of Cano is still worth a ton — Texas probably would have avoided a tiebreaker game if they had him instead of Mitch Moreland (with Ian Kinsler moving to first), for example — so the Yankees could have asked for quite a bit. Jurickson Profar for three months of Cano? Martin Perez? No reason to take anything less.
Although the Yankees aren’t playing one of their AL East rivals, this four-game series against the Rangers in Texas has some pretty big playoff implications. New York is three back of the second wildcard spot and the Rangers are two games ahead of them, so this is a chance to leapfrog one of their wildcard competitors. Jumping over multiple teams in very hard to do, so winning these head-to-head games is crucial.
What Have They Done Lately?
Quite a bit of losing, actually. The Rangers got swept by the Orioles this weekend and have lost seven of their last eight overall. They’ve gone 22-27 their last 49 games as well. Texas sits in second place in the AL West at 54-44 with a +16 run differential, three games back of the Athletics.
At 4.3 runs per game with a team 96 wRC+, the Rangers are pretty close to a league average offense. They certainly aren’t the same run-scoring juggernaut they’ve been for the last decade or so. Texas has a full five-man starting rotation on the DL but just one position player: former Yankee DH Lance Berkman (98 wRC+). He’s out with a hip issue and won’t return this week.
Manager Ron Washington’s lineup structure will be a little different than what we’re used to seeing. 2B Ian Kinsler (116 wRC+) still leads off and 3B Adrian Beltre (138 wRC+) cleans up, but SS Elvis Andrus (58 wRC+) now hits in the bottom third of the order. OF Nelson Cruz (121 wRC+) bats third and one of OF Craig Gentry (75 wRC+ in limited time), CF Leonys Martin (96 wRC+), or IF Jurickson Profar (78 wRC+ in limited time) bats second.
C A.J. Pierzynski (98 wRC+), 1B Mitch Moreland (107 wRC+), and OF David Murphy (74 wRC+) usually fill out the rest of the lineup. UTIL Jeff Baker (190 wRC+ in limited time) will sub in against southpaws. Backup C Geovany Soto (68 wRC+) and OF Engel Beltre (53 wRC+ in limited time) round out the bench. The Rangers are a top five homer-hitting club (113) and a middle of the pack stolen base team (60).
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Yu Darvish
Texas took advantage of the All-Star break to manipulate the roster and give their ace a little extra rest. The 26-year-old Darvish will be activated off the DL for tonight’s start (technically, it was a trap strain), and he brings with him a 3.02 ERA (3.21 FIP) and a dynamite strikeout rate (11.84 K/9 and 32.5 K%). His walk rate (3.09 BB/9 and 8.5 BB%) is good and his ground ball rate is okay (43.9%), but he is homer prone (1.13 HR/9 and 15.2% HR/FB). Darvish is primarily a four-pitch pitcher who will mix in two other offerings as well. He sits in the low-to-mid-90s with his two- and four-seam fastballs and in the upper-80s with his cutter. His trademark slider — he throws it nearly 40% (!) of the time — comes in around 80 mph. A mid-80s splitter and a slow, mid-60s curve are those rarely used fifth and sixth pitches. He’ll throw two or three of each per start. The Yankees have faced Darvish twice before — he dominated them early last year and they tagged him for three solo homers in 5.1 innings a few weeks ago.
Tuesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Alexi Ogando
Like Darvish, Ogando will come off the DL for this start. He was actually hurt though — shoulder inflammation has had him on the shelf since early-June. Ogando, 29, owns a 2.93 ERA (4.26 FIP) in ten starts with unspectacular peripherals: 6.99 K/9 (18.7 K%), 3.58 BB/9 (9.6 BB%), 0.98 HR/9 (8.8% HR/FB), and 37.9% grounders. He’s using his mid-80s changeup far more than ever before (nearly 20% of the time), so he’s no longer that two-pitch, low-to-mid-90s fastball/low-80s slider guy. His velocity is down a tick or two across the board this season. It’s a small sample, but Ogando has a massive reverse split this year (.360 wOBA vs. RHB and .255 vs. LHB). That’s the exact opposite of the rest of his career. The Yankees have seen Ogando plenty over the last few years, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.
Wednesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Derek Holland
Very quietly, the 26-year-old Holland is having an excellent season (3.10 ERA and 2.93 FIP) thanks to his newfound ability to limit the long ball (0.61 HR/9 and 6.6% HR/FB). He doesn’t have a great ground ball rate (40.2%), so he’s probably due for some HR/FB regression considering his home ballpark. That doesn’t mean it will actually happen, of course. Holland has very good strikeout (8.55 K/9 and 22.8 K%) and walk (2.63 BB/9 and 7.0 BB%) numbers. He’s primarily a two-pitch pitcher but will show three others as well. A low-to-mid-90s sinker and low-80s slider are his top two weapons — he throws them more than 80% of the time combined — but he’ll use the occasional low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, low-80s changeup, and mid-70s curveball. He’ll throw a handful of each per start. The Yankees have hit Holland very hard in the past, but he dominated them earlier this year. Surely you remember that 92-pitch complete-game shutout in late-June.
Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. TBA
The Rangers have not yet announced their starter for this game. They have a trio of internal candidates — righties Ross Wolf, Josh Lindblom, and Justin Grimm — but they’ve been working the trade phones hard and may or may not be close to landing Matt Garza. Grimm, 24, is currently in the bullpen after pitching to a 6.37 ERA (4.79 FIP) in 17 starts, though he did hold the Yankees to three runs in five innings a few weeks ago. The 26-year-old Lindblom has been up-and-down several times this year, and he has a 5.46 ERA (4.42 FIP) in five starts and three relief appearances for the big league club. Wolf, 30, has a 3.79 ERA (4.54 FIP) in three starts and eleven relief appearances. Obviously the Yankees would be better off facing any of those three guys rather than Garza, who is scheduled to start for the Cubs tonight. If he pitches for Chicago, you can forget about him for Thursday even if the two teams do swing a trade.
Washington’s bullpen now features two former All-Star closers. RHP Joe Nathan (2.42 FIP) handles the ninth inning while RHP Joakim Soria (2.30 FIP in limited time) handles the eighth. RHP Tanner Scheppers (4.23 FIP) and LHP Robbie Ross (3.33 FIP) are the late-inning matchup tandem, then there’s LHP Neal Cotts (2.21 FIP) and RHP Jason Frasor (3.20 FIP). RHP Cory Burns (4.32 FIP in limited time) and LHP Joe Ortiz (4.29 FIP) are likely to be sent down when Darvish and Ogando are activated.
The Yankees are in decent bullpen shape following yesterday’s extra-innings loss, but both Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne are unlikely to be available tonight. David Robertson has appeared in two straight games as well. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage info. Now that Baseball Time in Arlington is defunct, Lone Star Ball is my Rangers’ blog of choice.
This isn’t exactly Yankees related, but Manny Ramirez has signed a minor league with the Rangers. He was playing in Taiwan earlier this year, but he recently opted out of his contract to pursue big league opportunities. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees didn’t have any interest. They sure could use some right-handed thump though. Oh well.
The Yankees have played every AL team this season except for three, and they’ll cross one of those off the list this week: the Rangers. The Twins and White Sox will come along eventually. New York and Texas have some recent history, dating back to the playoffs in the late-1990s playoffs as well as the 2010 ALCS.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Rangers have been very hot and cold of late, and they’re coming off five straight wins. Not long before that, they lost six straight. Overall, they are 44-32 with a +26 run differential this season, the best record and fourth best run differential in the AL.
At 4.4 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, the Rangers can score some runs even though they do not have the same kind of high-powered offense we’re used to seeing. They are without southpaw masher UTIL Jeff Baker (288 wRC+ vs. LHP) and CF Craig Gentry (64 wRC+), who are both on the DL with hand problems. Baker actually sprained his thumb high-fiving a teammate, in case you need to laugh at someone else’s injuries for once.
Manager Ron Washington has a deep lineup with seven regulars who are producing at a league average rate of better. 2B Ian Kinsler (126 wRC+) is fresh off the DL and the leadoff hitter, SS Elvis Andrus (52 wRC+) bats second, former Yankee DH Lance Berkman (104 wRC+) bats third, and 3B Adrian Beltre (121 wRC+) cleans up. OF Nelson Cruz (124 wRC+), C A.J. Pierzynski (111 wRC+), 1B Mitch Moreland (129 wRC+), and CF Leonys Martin (100 wRC+) usually follow the top four in some order. OF David Murphy (72 wRC+) is the final regular. Those are the nine guys Washington runs out there pretty much everyday.
The Rangers are actually carrying three catchers, though C Robinson Chirinos (37 wRC+ in limited time) can play a bunch of other positions as well. C Geovany Soto (76 wRC+) is the traditional backup. OF Engel Beltre was just called up and has yet to get into a game. Whenever he does, it will be his big league debut. IF Jurickson Profar (83 wRC+) is baseball’s top prospect and something more than a part-time utility infielder. The starting nine can mash overall, but guys like Pierzynski, Cruz, Murphy, Moreland, and Martin are worse off against same-side pitchers. The switch-hitting Berkman has traditionally fared worse against lefties than righties.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Yu Darvish
Texas was nice enough to rearrange their rotation a bit so Darvish could start tonight’s game rather than their last game against the Cardinals on Sunday. Thanks for that. The 26-year-old has dominated this year, pitching to a 2.84 ERA (2.83 FIP) with an insane strikeout rate (12.17 K/9 and 34.2 K%). He also doesn’t walk many (2.75 BB/9 and 7.7 BB%) and gets a decent amount of ground balls (46.0%). You can take him deep (0.98 HR/9 and 13.8% HR/FB) on occasion, however. Darvish is a true six-pitch pitcher, sitting in the low-to-mid-90s with his two- and four-seamer and in the upper-80s with his cutter and splitter. A sharp low-80s slider is his top strikeout pitch, and he’ll also mix in a floating upper-60s curveball. He can varying the break on the slider — one goes side-to-side, another breaks hard and down — so he’s really a seven-pitch pitcher. Sounds like fun. Darvish struck out ten Yankees in 8.1 scoreless innings the only time he’s faced them, and that came early last year when New York had a much, much better lineup.
Wednesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Justin Grimm
The Rangers have almost a complete rotation on the DL, so the 24-year-old Grimm has been forced onto the staff for most of the year. His 5.57 ERA (4.32 FIP) is backed by decent peripherals: 7.18 K/9 (17.9 K%), 3.10 BB/9 (7.7 BB%), 1.24 HR/9 (11.6% HR/FB), and 42.7% grounders. Grimm sits in the low-90s with his four-seam fastball, which he uses to set up his upper-70s curveball and low-80s changeup. The curve is his go-to secondary pitch; he throws it almost 30% of the time and it keeps him from showing a platoon split. The Yankees have never faced Grimm, who has 86.2 career innings to his credit.
Thursday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Derek Holland
Holland, 26, is very quietly having an excellent year now that he’s gotten his homer problem under control (0.56 HR/9 and 6.3% HR/FB). Well, he’s probably at least a little lucky with the homers given that HR/FB rate, which is especially low given his home ballpark. Holland has a 3.43 ERA (2.80 FIP) with very good strikeout (8.35 K/9 and 22.2 K%) and walk (2.32 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%) totals. He gets a ground ball on 42.5% of balls in play. Working off a sinker that sits in the low-to-mid-90s, Holland uses low-80s sliders and changeups as his primary offspeed weapons. A mid-70s curveball will also make an appearance. The Yankees have faced him a bunch of times over the years and have typically hit him very hard — 41 runs and 75 base-runners in 39.2 innings.
Like the Bombers, Texas was off on Monday and they have a rested bullpen. Closer RHP Joe Nathan (2.90 FIP) has never met a big game he can’t blow, especially against the Yankees. Unfortunately this series really doesn’t qualify as “big.” RHP Tanner Scheppers (3.84 FIP) and LHP Robbie Ross (2.32 FIP) are the primary setup men while RHP Jason Frasor (4.07 FIP) and LHP Neal Cotts (2.23 FIP in limited time) do the middle relief thing. RHP Ross Wolf (3.43 FIP) and RHP Kyle McClellan (5.33 FIP) are the extra arms.
Both Mariano Rivera and David Robertson have had two straight days off, so they’re in good shape. Pretty much every middle reliever appeared in Sunday’s game, though that’s no real biggie. The Yankees are in fine bullpen shape going into tonight’s series opener. Our Bullpen Workload page has all the details. Now that Baseball Time In Arlington is defunct, Lone Star Ball is my (Texas) Rangers blog of choice.