The Rangers Still Have Hope For A Playoff Chance

texas_rangers_logoThe Texas Rangers have traditionally had a rough time with the second half of the season, but this season seems to be a little different. While they are winners of 7 out of 10 games, they do have hit a bump in the road with the AL-worst Oakland Athletics.  The Rangers were quiet during the trade deadline and stand only 4 ½ games back from the Angels in the West and only 3 ½ games back from the Wild Card as of the time of this writing (8/6/09).

Kevin Millwood
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With Nolan Ryan emphasizing pitcher endurance during the offseason, the fruits of his labor are being shown this late into the season.  The bright spot of the Rangers pitching spot has been the health of Kevin Millwood (until recently with a gluteus strain). Millwood, the ace of the staff, has 8 quality starts and a 3.39 ERA.  Pitching is keeping the Rangers afloat in the race, while the offense has tailed off.  Quite a paradox when someone considers that the Rangers have prided themselves on offense and offense alone.  Scott Feldman, surprisingly has 10 wins on the season and leads the club in wins.

Texas is now in the top 8 in the AL in strikeouts, BAA, quality starts, walks and ERA.  The bullpen is ranked as the fourth best bullpen in the AL.  While things are looking up on the pitching staff, the Rangers need to find their bats once again.  Their bats this season has landed them in the bottom five in BA, on-base percentage and runs scored.  In 2008, they finished the season first in all those categories.

Scott Feldman throwing a sidearm pitch
Image via Wikipedia

Many critics had the Rangers finishing third in the West, but the Rangers find themselves in the playoff hunt with a month and a half to go in the regular season.  Pitchers like Derek Holland and Scott Feldman have filled in their roles as starters for the injured Brandon McCarthy and Matt Harrison, and have done a good job.  The bullpen is amongst the best in the league and Josh Hamilton is finding his groove back at the plate.

Texas had the number 1 rated farm system coming into the season.  We’ve seen many of those players in and out and they have produced.  One such player was Neftali Feliz, who struck out 4 straight and had a sickening 101 MPH fastball.  Another player that could be called up later this month is Justin Smoak, who is batting .379 in AAA.  He was drafted in ’08.

There is plenty of baseball to be played and not many expected to see Texas in contention this season.  Ron Washington’s job is safe for another season.  It’s anyone’s race in the West and it may very well come down to the last series of the season for the Angels and the Rangers.

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  1. Baseball fan

    August 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I love Justin Smoak and he is on my roto team but you should check his stats – he’s hitting .211 in AAA, not .379.

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