SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Rangers did stay in contention a bit longer than anyone expected this year, but ultimately their pitching did them in and they’ve spent most of the second half out of the race.
Red Sox 2, Rangers 2
Down. The Rangers had a strong start to this final month of the season with a run that got them all the way back to a .500 record. They hit a snag of late, though, that ended with a seven-game losing streak. The did snap the streak in their last game on Sunday, but they’ve still dropped eight of their last eleven.
9/24: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Ariel Jurado, 8:05 PM ET
If you were to poll the players, the number one story for the Red Sox in this final week of the season would likely be Eduardo Rodriguez and his chase for twenty wins. I’ve talked about it for a couple weeks now with the same hedge that pitcher wins don’t matter in analysis, but they clearly do to the player. There is still a prestige around that number, not to mention financial gain to be had because arbitration is such an archaic process. Rodriguez is currently at 18 victories with this start plus the one on the final day of the season left to be made. Obviously, it’s not just the wins, or even at all the wins, that tell us how great the southpaw has been this year. Coming into this Tuesday outing, he has a 138 ERA+ on the year over 32 starts. Over his last seven starts, he has pitched to an ERA of just 1.00. Also of note: Rodriguez is only 8 2⁄3 innings away from the 200 mark on the year, another meaningful milestone for him.
Jurado isn’t quite a rookie this year having pitched 54 innings in the majors in 2018, but the Rangers righty is pretty close. The 23-year-old is getting his first ever full workload in 2019, and things haven’t gone all that smoothly. Over 119 innings split between the rotation and bullpen, he has pitched to a 5.73 ERA with a 5.09 FIP and a 6.99 DRA. His control is solid, but it’s not quite elite which is where you want it as someone who, like him, doesn’t miss many bats. It’s a tough line to walk in today’s game, as he’s learning this season having allowed 20 homers. If he’s going have success in the majors, he’s going to have to find a way to get more strikeouts. The Red Sox did see Jurado earlier this year, scoring three runs over six innings with six strikeouts and three walks. The young righty will feature a pair of low-90s fastballs (his four-seamer sits at 93) along with a slider, a changeup and the occasional curveball.
9/25: Rick Porcello vs. Koby Allard, 8:05 PM ET
I was honestly a little surprised to see Porcello’s name in this space when I went to write it. This series doesn’t matter for either side so it’s not as if the team is under any obligation to send out their best, and this could be Porcello’s final appearance in a Red Sox uniform as he’s set to hit free agency this winter. It is of course possible that the market for the righty shrinks enough that the Red Sox take him back, but I’d bet against that at this point. I kind of was expecting his final start of the year to be pushed back to Friday so he’d get to have a farewell at Fenway. Since he’s making this start, I wouldn’t rule out an appearance out of the bullpen against the Orioles this weekend, even just for one batter so the crowd can say goodbye. Porcello did face the Rangers earlier this year, allowing two runs over 6 2⁄3 innings with six strikeouts and no walks.
Allard is a new member of the Rangers having come over from the Braves in a deadline deal that sent reliever Chris Martin to Atlanta. The lefty is a former 14th overall pick who was ranked as highly as 24th in baseball heading into last season on Baseball Prospectus, but his stock has fallen a bit since then. His stuff just never really played up as much in the upper levels of the minors, which made him more good than great. Since coming over to Texas Allard made one start in Triple-A before coming up to the majors. There, he’s made eight starts for a total of 42 1⁄3 innings with a 4.25 ERA, a 3.76 FIP and a 5.70 DRA. His strikeout and walk numbers aren’t all that impressive, but he’s done a great job of keeping the ball in the park. Of course, given this era and the small sample size, it’s reasonable to look upon the long ball numbers skeptically. In his eight starts Allard has featured a fastball that averages 92 mph, a cutter and a changeup.
9/26: TBD vs. Mike Minor, 2:05 PM ET
This will, presumably, be another bullpen game. Not much else to say about those at this point.
One of the side effects of the Rangers staying in the race longer than expected is that they were hesitant to pull the trigger on any major deals. They did deal Martin, as mentioned above, but Minor stuck in Texas after being involved in trade rumors most of the summer. The lefty does have one more year on his contract and could again come up in talks this winter. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the Red Sox connected to him. Minor has been terrific this season, pitching to a 3.52 ERA over 31 starts and 199 2⁄3 innings. His peripherals are worse than that, to be fair, with a 4.25 FIP and a 4.01 DRA. If there’s been an issue for Minor this year it has been his control, with his three walks per nine innings being his highest rate since 2011, his second year in the majors. He has struggled in his last couple outings, though, allowing a total of 13 runs over ten innings, with both starts coming against the A’s. Earlier this year, Minor allowed just two runs over eight innings against the Red Sox. He will feature a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a changeup, a slider and a curveball.
Tim Federowicz was a seventh round pick by the Red Sox way back in 2008, but he never made it to the majors with the club. The catcher was part of the three-team deal that sent Erik Bedard to the Red Sox in 2011, and he’d spend parts of four years in the majors with the Dodgers. He’s bounced around a lot since then, playing in 28 games with Texas this season.
Notable Position Players
Elvis Andrus has been better of late, but it’s been a disappointing year overall for the Rangers shortstop. He’s still very slick in the field which puts a decent floor on his overall value, but he hasn’t seen a rise in power despite the juiced balls and he doesn’t turn enough balls in play into hits to make up for the low walk rate.
Willie Calhoun has had a strange tenure in Texas as a former top prospect who took a long time to get an extended look in the majors. The big problem for him is that he doesn’t have a defined position, so his value all comes down to the bat. It’s been solid this year, though like Andrus he’ll either need to walk more or get more hits. He does have legitimate power, though.
Shin-Soo Choo has fallen off since a red-hot start to the year, but Choo is still an absolute machine when it comes to getting on base at the top of the Rangers lineup.
Nomar Mazara is just so frustrating. A former top prospect, the outfielder has all of the talent in the world and shows it in spurts but can’t put it together for a full season. At least not yet.
Danny Santana might just be the face of the juiced ball season. Coming into the season as a slap-hitting middle infielder with 13 career homers in parts of five seasons, he’s posted a .246 Isolated Power in 2019 with 26 homers.
Rougned Odor is another guy with big potential that just hasn’t been able to find consistency. The big issue for Odor is his contact rate. The power is there, but it doesn’t really matter when you can’t make contact and also don’t have the patience.
Nick Solak hasn’t been up in the majors very long, but in his small sample size he’s been outstanding and deserves more and more looks.
Ronald Guzmán has solid power, but it’s not enough to justify his strikeout rate sitting near 30 percent.
Jose Trevino has solid defense behind the plate but like many catchers doesn’t have the offensive skills.
José Leclerc came into the year with big expectations after a strong 2018 and a contract extension, but he faltered early with his command. His ERA has settled down in the second half, but he still walks too many guys.
Rafael Montero has only made 20 appearances with the Rangers but he’s been very good in them. Homers have been an issue, but his strikeout and walk numbers are fantastic. Who doesn’t have homer issues, righty?
Emmanuel Clase is a really fun young arm with a nutty 99 mph cutter. The strikeout rate hasn’t been quite as high as one might expect with his stuff, but he’s a fun one to watch.
Joey Gallo is far and away the Rangers best player, but he went down with a wrist injury in July and he was never able to return.
Hunter Pence was one of baseball’s best stories this year and made the All-Star team, but he went down with a back injury in late August and at this point is unlikely to return.
Taylor Hearn went down with an elbow injury in April that kept him out virtually all year.
Jesse Chavez underwent elbow surgery earlier this month, but should be ready for spring training.
Nate Jones went to the Rangers in a trade while already injured and will not pitch for them this year.
Jesse Biddle was shut down with shoulder fatigue in July and never made his way back off the IL.
It’s Texas. It’s going to be sunny and hot.