Let’s forget that those last twelve games happened. Let’s say it was just the Rangers being magnanimous and allowing their lesser division mates the chance to dream the big dream that they will then crush in September.
Let’s bid farewell to that horrible string of pitching that has brought to question all the greatness the Rangers have accomplished in the first half. And farewell to the pitchers most responsible, too.
Since giving up six runs to the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth on June 29, the Rangers pitching has melted down. In fact, since that Chernobyl in the Bronx, the Rangers have had a lead to end an inning just twenty-four times in one hundred innings.
And when they have had a lead, they’ve lost that lead in eight of those eleven games.
The starters managed just 53 innings in those twelve games (an average of less than five runs per game), with an ERA of 7.98. The overtaxed relievers threw 47.2 innings, giving up 42 runs, for a sparkling ERA of 7.93.
This is a team desperately in need of a shot in the arm. If they could find one that isn’t shot.
Through the first seventy-eight games, Rangers starters were quality-start machines. In fact, they set the team record for quality starts in a row.
But that was before so many of the quality starters went down. Then the Rangers made the most unfortunate of all decisions. They dipped into their farm system.
Poor-quality starters yielded poor-quality starts.
The bullpen hasn’t been anything to write home about, either. It really is a yin and yang.
The Rangers have four qualifying relievers with an ERA under 2.80, which is the best in baseball. The problem is they have used sixteen relievers.
Diekman (2.73), Dyson (2.59), Bush (2.49) and Barnette (2.43) have a combined ERA of 2.57.
Leclerc has a very solid 1.93 ERA, but in only 4.2 innings. And Claudio has a surprisingly decent ERA of 3.86.
After that it gets really ugly.
You know it’s bad when were are desperately waiting for Keona Kela and his 7.11 ERA to get off the DL.
After having said all that, though, this is the Rangers’ best start in franchise history. Best finish at the first half ever. And biggest lead at the break fever.
In the first half, they are playing .600 baseball and on a pace for 97 wins. Darvish has not been a factor. Choo was injured most of the first half, and both Fielder and Moreland were MIA most of the first half.
And Saturday they say hello again to Yu Darvish.
He won’t give the Rangers innings. But he will give them hope.
And that is something we haven’t seen in a long long time.
Martin Perez (7-5, 3.85) vs. Kyle Hendricks (7-6 , 2.55)
Game time: 1:20 pm