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Red Sox vs. Rangers Series Preview

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Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Lone Star Ball

The opponent in one sentence

A team lost in the wilderness since 2016, Texas sold hard at the deadline and appear to be heading towards another rebuild cycle.

Record

42-79

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 1, Rangers 3

Trend

Down. This team is 7-24 since the All-Star break, which is somehow worse than the Orioles!

Pitching Matchups

8/20: Dane Dunning vs. Chris Sale, 7:10 PM ET (MLB Network for out-of-market)

Dunning is a fun, effective pitcher. Traded by the White Sox for Lance Lynn last offseason, he features a 90 mph sinker, a slider, and a changeup. He throws the sinker over half the time and relies on weak contact, something he’s gotten a lot of but is either lacking the gloves behind him or the proper positioning because he’s running a .336 batting average on balls in play.

Sale looked excellent save for two pitches in his debut. Sale threw way more four seamers than he has in the past and leaned on his changeup more than his slider, a departure from the rest of his career where his slider was his top secondary, and in 2019, his most frequent pitch.

Red Sox vs Rays Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

8/21: Jordan Lyles vs. Eduardo Rodriguez, 7:10 PM ET (MLB Network for out-of-network)

The deceptively young Jordan Lyles has been a bad pitcher for virtually his entire career, save for 2019 when he posted his only ERA+ over 100. He’s been bad for Texas this year too. He leads baseball in hits allowed and earned runs and is only behind teammate Mike Foltynewicz in home runs allowed. This should be a guy the Sox rock for six runs.

FIP and DRA based metrics say that Rodriguez is having one of the best years of his career. I hate doing this on principle, but the difference between E-Rod’s FIP and ERA are by far the largest in the league with well over a 1.5 run separation. His DRA and ERA are separated by exactly a run, he’s striking out more dudes than ever before while walking less people than he ever has since his rookie season, all while keeping his exit velocities down. He’s seen his ERA plummet since July, so maybe luck is catching up to him and he can finish the year with a respectable ERA.

8/22: Kolby Allard vs. Nathan Eovaldi, 1:10 PM ET

Allard, a former Braves first round pick, has found the elite control he possessed in the minors, but he’s at the bottom of the league in whiff rate and chase rate. He lacks any sort of swing and miss offering, so he’s prone to giving up hard contact.

Eovaldi wasn’t going to keep balls in the park forever with the way he pitches, which is fine. He’s had a good year and is still leading baseball in HR/9 despite giving up six home runs in his last four starts. There are guys in this lineup that can take him yard like Garcia and Peters, but this lineup has more holes in it than an episode of Monday Night Raw so Eovaldi should fare pretty easily. The Rangers team he ran through in April was considerably stronger than this and he threw 6 innings of one-run ball that night. On the other hand, it’s remarkable that Eovaldi has remained healthy the entire season. The only blemish this rotation has had all year long was Rodriguez’s injury to begin the year. A remarkable achievement for a rotation that had BIG injuries questions at the start of the season.

Old Friends

Brock Holt’s been bad since he left Boston. He signed a minor league deal with the Rangers last off-season and has hit .202/.282/.295 in limited time.

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Notable Position Players

Isiah Kiner-Falefa has gone from a utility man who donned the tools of ignorance to everyday shortstop, a conversion I can’t recall ever happening off the top of my head. He provides his value on the defensive side of the ball, as he has an OBP below .300 and slugs below .370.

Yonny Hernandez has some of the weakest power in all of professional baseball. In 1,952 plate appearances, he’s knocked 4 home runs. It’s a weird profile. A slap and dash hitter with high walk rates. This is his first turn through the league as he made his debut on August 5th.

Adolis García is the lone bright spot left on this offense. García scorches the ball, but the strikeout to walk numbers are atrocious and the average isn’t high enough to support a good OBP. He’s going to easily clear 30 home runs this year, though and if you do that you have to try really hard in other areas to be a bad player.

Nate Lowe gets on base a fair bit, but a first baseman can’t have a slugging percentage that begins with a “3”.

Andy Ibáñez was a glove-first seven-figure IFA signing in 2015. He finally debuted this year at the age of 28 and has been putrid with the stick, hitting .213/.257/.354

Jonah Heim was traded to the Rangers last February with Khris Davis and Dane Acker for Elvis Andrus and Aramis Garcia. Neither he nor his battery mate Jose Trevino can hit, but they are an excellent framing duo.

Jason Martin was a part of the package the Astros sent to the Pirates for Gerrit Cole. He washed out in Pittsburgh and signed with the Rangers last offseason. After raking in AAA to begin the year, he has struggled mightily to hit big league pitching.

Yohel Pozo skipped AA entirely and started the year in AAA Round Rock, hitting .336/.350/.608. He made his Major League debut last week and has been DH’ing. His primary position is that of catcher.

DJ Peters was claimed off waivers at the beginning of the month after the Los Angeles Dodgers designated him for assignment. He’s hit badly in the 15 games since joining the team, but he’s got plenty of raw power.

Bullpen Snapshot

Joe Barlow is the Rangers new closer after dealing Ian Kennedy. His Major League career has gotten off to a stellar start, but he did hit a road bump yesterday against the Mariners, giving up a home run in two innings of work. He’s a 95 and a slider guy, but both pitches are good.

Spencer Patton spent the last four seasons in Japan pitching for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars after bouncing around the bigs from 2014-2016 and is doing alright for himself. He possesses a low-mid 90’s fastball, a slider, and an occasional splitter.

Brett Martin is a left-handed reliever who doesn’t strike anybody out and has a remarkably balanced pitch mix. He throws his sinker, slider, four-seam, and curveball over 20% of the time.

Injuries

Ronald Guzmán underwent surgery on his right knee for a torn meniscus back in April and will return in 2022.

Willie Calhoun underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his left ulna back in late June. He was moved to the 60-day IL on August 5th, but there remains hope that he could return before the end of the season.

Eli White went on the 10-day IL on August 5th with a right elbow strain. There is no time table for his return.

Kohei Arihara had surgery to repair an aneurysm in his right shoulder back in late May. He threw a simulated game on Tuesday and could start a rehab assignment next week.

Kyle Cody has been on the IL since April with a shoulder impingement. The last word from late-July was that he was shooting for a September return, but he hasn’t started throwing.

Matt Bush suffered a right flexor strain back in April and was originally slated to be out for 12 weeks. He hasn’t thrown a pitch since and his timetable for a return is unknown.

Jonathan Hernández had Tommy John surgery in April. He’s out for the remainder of the year.

John King went on the 10-day IL with shoulder inflammation back on July 9th. He’s expected to return before the end of the month.

José Leclerc underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of March and will miss the rest of the season.

Hunter Wood went on the 10-day IL with a mild UCL sprain that later required surgery. He will miss the next 8-14 months.

Weather Forecast

It’s going to be a wet weekend at Fenway, but they might actually be able to escape with all three games played. Friday looks good, and while there is rain in the forecast for both Saturday and Sunday, there’s a chance there will be clear windows during the scheduled game times.