With just over a week left in the regular season, the playoff future for many teams still hangs in the balance.
Now that the Boston Red Sox have taken care of business, it’s time to look elsewhere. Over the next week or so, I will give Sox fans a preview of each potential opponent they may face when the ALDS begins on October 4th.
You don’t have to look far to see why the Texas Rangers are currently on the outside looking in.
A 5-15 month of September has been a nauseating gut-punch to a team who’s been to the World Series twice in the last three years. At 84-71, they are now eliminated from contention in the AL West, and trail Cleveland for the final Wild Card spot by 1.5 games, with just 7 games left. If they want to make it to October, their offense needs to break out of a tough slump, and who better to do it against then everybody’s favorite piñata, the Houston Astros.
For the sake of this article, the Rangers have snuck in and won the Wild Card.
What should the Red Sox expect to see?
Plenty of Yu Darvish. In a best-of-five series, I would expect the Rangers to put Darvish on the mound as much as they possibly can. There is some depth behind him with guys like Matt Garza, and Alexi Ogando, but much like John Lackey, Darvish’s record doesn’t tell the real story. At 13-9, Darvish is a certified ace who could be extremely troublesome to deal with in the playoffs.
With a 1.06 WHIP, 2.81 ERA, and 260 strikeouts, Darvish has had hitters guessing all season, resulting in opponents only mustering a .193 average against him. His command over such a variety of pitches is a huge reason for this. Darvish is on record of being able to throw seven different pitches! Obviously, he’s probably not reaching back for seven different pitches a game, but think about that for a second. Most big leaguers can get by with two really good pitches and find some sort of success, so you can bank on a long day for anybody with a bat if a guy starts weaving multiple pitches through the strike zone.
It’s worth noting that Darvish’s only start this year against Boston was a no-decision where he went 7 strong innings, giving up 3 earned runs, and striking out 14.
Despite their recent offensive struggles, the Rangers are a relatively good run scoring team. Similar to the Red Sox, they have multiple guys who can take it out of the yard and get it done.
Adrian Beltre is by far their best hitter, and rightfully so, he strikes fear when he steps into the box. But an underlying aspect is the huge boost Texas could receive in the playoffs. At the moment, the Rangers are without right fielder Nelson Cruz, who hit 27 homers before being suspended by MLB for the remainder of the season. But in a playoff series, Cruz would be inserted back into that line up, adding another legitimate power bat to what is already, a homer-happy offense.
With Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus providing the Rangers with the ability to create some runs on the base paths, you could see where that could give the Red Sox, and more specifically, Jarrod Saltalamacchia some trouble. Opponents have a 78% success rate when stealing on Salty. It’s been a weakness all season long, so a team who can exploit that may have a shot at sending Boston home early.
Overall, I don’t believe the Texas Rangers have enough starting pitching to compete with Boston. I’ve been saying it since July, but the signing of Jake Peavy really gave the Red Sox one of the deepest starting rotations in baseball. Even if Darvish was dominant in both starts, the likelihood of the Rangers coming into Fenway and leaving with a victory in October is slim.
Series Prediciton: Red Sox 3 – Rangers 1