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Red Sox vs. Rangers Series Preview

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A look ahead to this week’s four-game set hosting the Rangers

Texas Rangers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Lonestar Ball

The Opponent in one sentence

The Rangers are quietly one of the more surprising teams in the American League, currently holding down a wildcard spot thanks to a powerful offense that masks some of their pitching woes.

Record

34-30

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 0, Rangers 0

Trend

Up. As I said above, the Rangers are currently in the second wildcard positon in the American League, and that is partially because of some recent success. Texas is playing some of their best baseball of 2019, having won three of their last four series and five of their last seven. Gong back to May 15 they have won 17 of 25.

Pitching Matchups

6/10: Chris Sale vs. Mike Minor, 7:10 PM ET

The Red Sox are coming off a tough weekend in which they dropped three of four to the Rays, and the best possible way for them to try and snap out of that funk is to have their best pitcher on the mound for the opening of the next series. We’ve talked about how David Price has been the more consistent arm this year, and that remains true, but Sale is still the guy with the highest ceiling. We pretty much saw that ceiling in his last start, too, when he tossed a shutout against the Royals with 12 strikeouts for his best game score of his career. He’ll look to at least come close to replicating that on Monday against a better offense than the one he saw in Kansas City.

Boston Red Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Minor has had an interesting career as a former top prospect who didn’t really hold up too well as a starter early in his career and made a brief, one-year transition to relief in 2017 with the Royals. He was great in that role, but Texas shifted him back to the rotation last year with more mediocre results. In 2019, however, he’s looking as strong as ever. The lefty has made 13 starts so far this year with a 2.55 ERA, a 3.36 FIP and a 3.08 DRA. He’s doing so while striking out more than a batter per inning with the best swinging strike rate of his career as well as the highest ground ball rate of his career. Minor is coming off a seven shutout inning performance his last time out and he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since April 22. The southpaw will throw a fastball that averages a velocity around 93 mph along with a changeup, a slider and a curveball.

6/11: TBD vs. Ariel Jurado, 7:10 PM ET

As of this writing the Red Sox have not announced who will make the start for Tuesday’s game. This had been Ryan Weber’s rotation spot for the last few turns, but he’s now down in Pawtucket. Mike Shawaryn is the most stretched out guy on the pitching staff right now, but he also threw out of the bullpen a couple times over the weekend. Darwinzon Hernandez is a possibility mentioned by Alex Cora, and may be the most likely at this point. The lefty only threw one inning in his last start, but that was not injury-related and could have been to keep him fresh for this potential outing.

The Rangers will throw out a young pitcher of their own for the second game of this series, turning to Jurado, a 23-year-old righty. He has spent the bulk of this year in Texas’ bullpen, but has made four starts prior to this. That includes each of his last three outings, all of which have been solid as he’s pitched at least six innings with three or fewer runs allowed in all of them. On the season, Jurado has thrown 35 23 innings with a 2.78 ERA, a 3.84 FIP and a 3.22 DRA. He’s not going to get a ton of whiffs in a typical start and is solid if unspectacular with his control, but he does a good job of inducing grounders and weak contact in general. Jurado will throw a pair of fastballs, leaning more heavily on the sinker, as well as a changeup and a slider.

6/12: Rick Porcello vs. Lance Lynn, 7:10 PM ET

Porcello is starting to head back into a bit of a slump of late, not really getting crushed but also not pitching up to his potential. He’s allowed at least four runs in each of his last three starts with an ERA of 6.23 in this run. His strikeouts are a bit down, but the real issue is the number of hits he’s allowing. Over 17 13 innings in these three starts he’s allowed a whopping 25 hits. For a guy who is good to allow a home run or two pretty much every time out, it’s crucial he keeps guys off the bases ahead of the long balls to try and limit the damage.

Lynn was one of the players last year who had to wait relatively long into the offseason before signing, eventually heading to the Twins midway through spring training. He never quite gone on track early and eventually went to the Yankees later in the year. The righty ended up signing with Texas this past winter and things have gone more smoothly. It doesn’t look like that from an ERA perspective, as he’s pitched to a mark of 4.39, but he holds a 3.14 FIP and a 3.12 DRA. Lynn is allowing more balls in the air than ever before and has a .345 BABIP to go with that, but he’s also striking out over a batter per inning with control he’s never shown over a full season. He’s getting much better results over the last month or so, too, with a 2.97 ERA over his last six starts. Lynn will throw a mid-90s four-seam, a slightly slower two-seam, a cutter and a curveball.

6/13: David Price vs. Adrian Sampson, 7:10 PM ET

What can we say about what David Price has done this year. He’s been the stopper for the Red Sox in each of his last two starts, but hopefully he won’t have to play that role again this time out. He’s shown he’s up to the task if he is charged with that job, but really he’s up to the task for any job right now. Price’s command has been unbelievable of late as he’s owning the outside corner against righties and getting strikeouts looking left and right. Look for him to command the edges of the zone again in this one.

Sampson has been, in a way, the opposite of Lynn with an ERA that is better than his underlying peripherals may suggest. That said, the split isn’t too drastic, at least depending on which peripherals you use. The righty has made 14 appearances this year, seven of which have been starts, with an ERA of 3.72, a FIP of 4.07 and a DRA of 5.07. His best quality is his control as he walks fewer than two batters per nine innings, but he also doesn’t miss a ton of bats. That means the Red Sox are going to have to be aggressive and find good pitches against which to make good contact. Sampson will throw a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Old Friends

Tim Federowicz was a former seventh round pick for the Red Sox but never made it to the majors with the club. Instead, he was part of a midseason trade in 2011 that brought Erik Bedard to Boston. The catcher has bounced around since then, just recently being acquired by the Rangers a few days ago to fill their backup catcher role.

Notable Position Players

Elvis Andrus is most well known for his defense at shortstop, which has long been some of the best in baseball. At the plate, he consistently puts the ball in play while providing a little bit of power and good value on the bases.

Nomar Mazara came up as one of the most exciting prospects in baseball but hasn’t really been able to put that talent on display on a consistent basis. The lefty has the power to put up big numbers, though he struggles to put together strings of hits at times.

Hunter Pence has been a shocking contributor for Texas this year after signing a minor-league deal this past winter. The longtime Giants right fielder is hitting for massive power while limiting his strikeouts enough to keep his average up near .300.

Shin-Soo Choo is having a resurgence at the plate this year, showing his typical on-base skills at the top of the lineup while also hitting for big power.

Asdrúbal Cabrera has been particularly hot of late and is always a solid, all-around bat with good skills across the board. His power is playing up in 2019.

Rougned Odor is having another brutal year at the plate as his aggressive approach and swing-and-miss tendencies don’t play well together.

Danny Santana, like Odor, strikeouts out a bunch and doesn’t draw many walks, but he’s been able to overcome that profile thanks to consistently hard contact when he does put the ball in play.

Ronald Guzmán is a platoon bat, so the lefty may not play a ton this week. When he does, he can hit for power but struggles to provide much else.

Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Jeff Mathis is never known for his offensive prowess and has a wRC+ of 7 this year. Still, he’s stuck around in the majors since 2005 thanks to great defense and a legendary reputation working with pitchers.

Bullpen Snapshot

Shawn Kelly has emerged as the top reliever in Texas’ bullpen this year. The former National, who many wanted the Red Sox to sign this winter, seems to pitching a bit over his head as his ERA looks strong but his strikeout rate is at an all-time low.

José Leclerc started the year as one of the more exciting young relievers in the league and got a contract extension from Texas. He got off to a brutal start, however, before climbing out of the hole in May. However, he’s allowed three runs in his last two outings.

Jeffrey Springs is the top lefty in Texas’ bullpen, but he has struggled mightily with control this season.

Injuries

Joey Gallo has been great this year for Texas but he hurt his oblique early this month. The timetable is currently unknown, but those types of injuries have a tendency to linger.

Willie Calhoun looked good in his latest major-league stint before going down with a quad injury. He should start a rehab soon, though, and be back in a week or two.

Yohander Mendez went down with an elbow injury shortly before the season began and is out indefinitely.

Isiah Kiner-Falelfa sprained his finger just last week and it could keep him out of action for a decent amount of time.

Taylor Hearn went down with an elbow injury after his major-league debut and is on the 60-day injured list, so he’ll be out for a while.

Edinson Volquez made two starts early in the year before going down with an elbow injury. It’s unclear when he’ll be able to return.

Luke Farrell, the son of former Red Sox manager John Farrell, was hit by a line drive that fractured his jaw in spring training.

Scott Heineman was rehabbing a shoulder injury a couple weeks ago but had to be shut down after a setback.

Kyle Dowdy has struggled this year after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, and he’s now down with an elbow injury.

Weather Forecast

The weather isn’t going to be perfect this week, but periods of rain shouldn’t overlap much with gameplay, if at all. There is a chance rain could be a factor on Monday if the game drags on long, Thursday is a little murky with rain in the forecast earlier in the day.