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Baseball is a weird sport

August 4, 2013

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What is a fan to make of the 2013 Texas Rangers? At one point this season they were up 9 games on the rest of the division and the media was openly talking about how the division crown could be wrapped up before the All-Star break. The A’s had lost 8 of 10 games, including 2 out of 3 to the Rangers, and it looked like the Rangers were one of the two or three best teams in the league. Yet the Athletics bounced right back as they went 18-3 immediately after that series loss to the Rangers and just one month later were back in the thick of the AL West division race. Only a few weeks later the Rangers began struggling with a 12 losses in 15 games stretch that threatened to end their season before the stretch run was even under way. Ron Washington called a players only meeting and it resulted in 5 straight wins including 3 straight walk off homeruns against the Angels in an epic home stand. Now the club is 3.5 games behind the Athletics for the AL West crown and half a game behind the Rays and Indians for the two wild card spots with no one really knowing how well this team is going to be playing tomorrow let alone in a month. During a 16 game stretch that only produced 4 wins the Rangers clearly were a team that could only win if their starting pitcher dominated. It’s no surprise then that 3 of those 4 wins were pitched by Yu Darvish and Matt Garza as they are the team’s best two pitchers and the only ones that can carry the team on a given night. The offense appears to have turned a corner with the shakeup of the starting lineup that Wash made a week ago yet often times those boosts in productivity coming from those types of moves are temporary. What Rangers fans hope isn’t temporary is Elvis Andrus’ resurgence as he’s hitting .339 with an OPS of .833 since the All-Star break and has given plenty of RBI opportunities for Kinsler, Beltre, and Cruz these past few games. I hope it continues but the odds are it won’t as in the first 5 months of the season Andrus never had an OPS higher than .689 in any month so his elevated OPS since the All-Star break definitely feels like an aberration. Also the offense will be taking a hit in the next day or two anyway as Nelson Cruz is all but guaranteed a 50 game suspension due to his reported steroid use. He has the ability to fight it but I’d be shocked if he did as by accepting it immediately he would be eligible for the playoffs this season and would be free and clear when he hits free agency this winter. That last part is probably, sadly, the deciding factor as if he goes into free agency with a suspension looming over him he will have to settle for a one year deal at a reduced rate while if the suspension has been already served I could see him getting a multi year deal due to his All-Star caliber season he has had to this point. In a few weeks the “improved” Rangers offense could once again be in shambles with Andrus reverting back to his sub .700 OPS form and Cruz out of the lineup for the next few months. That would once again overexpose Profar, Murphy, Gentry, and Baker at the corner outfield spots as only Baker has to this point shown any effectiveness as a full time starter. The Rangers have a potentially dominant pitching quadruplet for the postseason in Darvish, Garza, Holland, and Harrison (who has his first rehab start this Wednesday) along with a dominant bullpen of Nathan, Scheppers, Cotts, and Soria (Robbie Ross doesn’t make the cut as he has struggled lately and might need to be shut down for a few weeks to get his arm back). Yet unless Andrus’ resurgence is here to stay for the remainder of the season or Murphy/Gentry/Profar get on a hot streak I just don’t see how the Rangers will score enough runs to make it to the postseason. Geovanni Soto and Leodys Martin provided an incredibly fun three nights at the ballpark last week that might have saved the Rangers season as those wins broke a long losing streak, rejuvenated them emotionally, and made them believe again in themselves. This is potentially a dominant team come October as they’ll have Harrison and Cruz back and be one of the most veteran clubs out their postseason experience wise. Yet the question is can this team even make it to October?

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