SB Nation Blog
The opponent in one sentence
The Rangers made a handful of major splashes last weekend, but it did not solve some of its core issues and it remains a team in the bottom half of the American League.
Up. The Rangers really stumbled out of the gates, a disappointing result given their offseason, but they’ve turned things around in May. They started the month by winning five in a row (including the final game in April), and overall have won seven of their last 10. That includes most recently taking two of three from the Royals.
Typically this is where I would run through the two starters for each game, but that just doesn’t seem feasible for this series so I’m going to do it a bit differently. Of the six starters for this weekend series, only one has been announced as of this writing. That’s Nick Pivetta, who will start for Boston on Friday and is coming off by far his best start of the season last weekend against the White Sox. It’s been a tough season for him so far this year, but his control has been good for two outings in a row (for the most part, anyway), and his stuff is sharpening. He’s still not where we saw him at his best in 2021, but he’s at least trending in the right direction.
Beyond Pivetta, the pitching plans this weekend are not clear. One of the big questions is presumably whether or not Rich Hill will be available. The veteran has been on the COVID list since last weekend, but if he tests negative a couple of times I would guess he’ll come back and make one of these starts. If he doesn’t, the team has a decision to make. They could use Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock, both of whom could start fully rested. They could also call up someone like Josh Winckowski, who had a short outing in Worcester this past week, potentially with an eye on keeping him fresh in case he’s needed in the majors. He could also come up and provide long relief behind someone like Houck. I’d be surprised if we don’t see Whitlock, though coming off maybe his worst outing in the majors they may want to give him an extra day of rest and save him for Houston coming to Boston next week.
On the Rangers side, they have not officially announced any of their three starters. If they stick on their schedule, we can expect to see Dane Dunning, Glen Otto, and then old friend Martín Pérez. Dunning is a former White Sox prospect who struggled a bit last year in his first season as a full-time major-league starter, but he’s had a solid start to his 2022. Dunning sits with a 3.38 ERA and peripherals to match, putting up essentially average numbers across the three true outcomes. Otto also has had good results through three starts with a 3.14 ERA, though his peripherals tell a more mediocre story.
Finally, there is Pérez, who of course we know quite well with his last couple of seasons in Boston. The southpaw pitched his way out of Boston’s rotation last season, but this year he tops Texas’ stable of starters. He’s been outstanding, too. Through six starts and 34 1⁄3 innings, he has a 2.10 ERA and a 2.57 FIP. He’s still not missing bats, but his control has been impressive and he’s yet to allow a home run, inducing weak contact and getting the most ground balls he’s gotten since 2016. The Red Sox are hoping they will somehow avoid them.
This is also typically where I list game times and TV broadcast info. The three games this weekend are at 8:05 PM ET (Friday), 7:05 PM ET (Saturday), and 2:35 PM ET (Sunday), and all are local broadcast only.
Martín Pérez, as we talked about earlier, is back in Texas where his career began. He signed a one-year deal worth $4 million and is looking well worth that price tag.
Garrett Richards also joined the Rangers this winter after pitching his way out of Boston’s rotation last summer, though he remains in the bullpen. He’s struggled to start this season and may not be long for that roster.
Notable Position Players
Corey Seager was the biggest addition by the Rangers this past winter, swooping in and grabbing arguably the top position player on the free agent market. He got off to a slow start but is heating up of late, with his power starting to show and getting his line back up to his typically great levels.
Marcus Semien was the other big splash, but he has not yet recovered from his slow start and has been perhaps the worst performing player from last year’s class (yes, including Trevor Story). Semien has a 35 wRC+, showing absolutely no power and struggling to convert balls in play into hits.
Jonah Heim has been a revelation behind the plate in a small sample, hitting for big power while also walking more than he’s struck out, albeit over 58 plate appearances.
Brad Miller isn’t really walking how you’d expect, but he’s a righty killer who can hit for power any time he steps to the plate.
Adolis Garcia burst onto the scene last season with big displays of power, but this year his aggressive style and issues making contact have outweighed the power.
Kole Calhoun is having basically the same season as Semien except with fewer walks and more strikeouts. It’s not great.
Nick Solak isn’t going to hit for a lot of power, but he makes a decent amount of contact and has a solid approach, making him a roughly league-average hitter.
Nathan Lowe is a former Ray, but he’s struggling this season as he’s produced almost no power, which is a tough look from the first base position.
Eli White hasn’t played a ton this year, but is getting on base thanks to walks and batted ball luck in a small sample, overshadowing some underlying contact issues.
Joe Barlow leaves some pitches over the plate which can certainly lead to issues in the late innings, but the Rangers closer also manages to miss bats while limiting walks, helping him still pitch to a low-2.00’s ERA.
Matt Bush is somehow still pitching in the late innings for the Rangers, and he’s another guy with good strikeout and walk rates but worrying trends with home runs.
Brock Burke is the top lefty in this group, and he’s been their best reliever overall with an ERA and FIP both under 2.00.
Mitch Garver hit the IL earlier this week with a forearm injury, and it seems like he’ll be out for a little while after coming over in an offseason trade.
José Leclerc hasn’t been healthy for a few years but is finally working his way back from Tommy John and could be back with the Rangers within the next month or so.
It’s summer in Texas with temperatures looking to be sitting in the high 90s this weekend. The Rangers’ new stadium does include a roof, though, so expect that to be closed at least on Sunday, which is a day game.