It’s time to fear Rangers pitching. 145 comments


On Adrian Beltre night, the Rangers sweep the Athletics in a double header on the strength of a brilliant pitching performance from Adrian Sampson.

 

AdrianSampson throws a complete game. On Adrian Beltre night. You can’t make this stuff up.

All of a sudden, the Rangers have pitching.

A team that was either dead last or next-to-last in most pitching categories at the beginning of the year has now slowly made its way to reliable. Even dominating.

How did this happen?

It’s not this “intangible” thing that Jeff Mathis supposedly brings to the table.

In separate articles last week in The Athletic and The Dallas Morning News, Levi Weaver and Evan Grant wrote about this great turnaround.

It’s all on Chris Woodward.

The new Rangers manager noticed his pitchers were, in his words, “the most predictable team in baseball.”

They threw fastballs in fastball counts. Breaking balls in breaking ball counts. Threw the changeup when everyone knew it was coming. The great Warren Spahn said, “Hitting is timing. And pitching is upsetting that timing.” The Rangers weren’t fooling anyone.

So, he went to the Rangers analytical department and asked if the data backed him up. It did. So he decided he would shake things up.

The Rangers were no longer going to be slaves to convention. It was time to get rid of some of these baseball “rules” had been around so long.

When he started implementing his strategy the results were immediate. Rangers pitchers were suddenly upsetting the timing by upsetting the “book.” But, why throw a fastball in a fastball count when everyone knows a fastball is coming?

But first, the pitchers had to buy into it. The only way that was going to happened is results.

Woodward said he was worried an old-school pitcher like Lance Lynn would resist change. But he was one of the first to embrace it. And his results have been remarkable. Adrian Sampson’s turnaround has been remarkable. So has Ariel Jurado.

Only one pitcher, in fact, has been reluctant to accept this new way of pitching.

Drew Smyly.

*****
TODAY’S GAME:

Frankie Montas (7-2, 2.83) vs. Drew Smyly (1-4, 7.93)
Game time: 2:05

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    I’m not quite ready to say the Rangers have a rotation to be feared. Minor is for sure legit. Lynn is solid and the rest are more in the unknown category. Sampson is still an unknown. He has developed confidence in his arm holding up post TJ and that’s a good thing. His vastly improved numbers coincide with his adaptation of a new slider grip that give the pitch more “bite” and later break. Is all of the improvement due to that or is part of it due to the league has not yet corrected their “book” on him? So far so good. Palumbo is back in Frisco where he can work on his control and Change Up. That’s a good thing. Pete from Accounting is in the Rangers BP awaiting his turn to pitch in the majors. A meteoric rise from “A” ball to the majors in a third of a season and a year back from TJ. Don’t discount late draft picks. Palumbo was taken in the 30th round, Pete from Accounting in the 9th. Left to right Pete and Polumbo.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63948a507799561a7f5d099d7cb53333706b14b021b120664c5bee0c4df4876d.png

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    Oh yeah, forgot ….. Matt Bush pitched one inning last night in Frisco. Struck out one and threw a bunch of strikes. He’s on a minor league deal, so there’s no rush to promote him unless it’s warranted by performance.

    • isittime

      A healthy Matt Bush will be nice to have back in the BP.

      • Nate Whitten

        It would be very nice. That guy was a shut down reliever when things were going well. As was the case when the Rangers have tried it with Feliz, I adamantly opposed trying to turn Bush into a starter. And, both times I was right. It didn’t work and they ended up hurt. Bush could be great for this ‘pen.

  • isittime

    one other thing to add is Minor, Lynn, Jurado, and Samson all attack the hitters with quality strikes. I don’t think Sampson walked a single A’s hitter yesterday. These 4 for the most part stay ahead of the hitters. Smyly, not yet having command of the strike zone, is constantly pitching in hitters counts and high stress situations, because of all the free passes.

    I see what woody’s talking about when he says his plays up. The guy has a 93-94 mph fastball with good sinking action, but he’s just too erratic with his control and it leads to the big innings.

    I really hope smyly figures it out. We’ll be better for it, but like rugie, it’s getting tiresome having to witness it on the big stage game after game.

  • WhoKnowscs

    Choo — DH
    Santana — CF
    Elvis — SS
    Mazara — RF
    Pence — LF
    Cabrera — 3B
    Odor — 2B
    Guzman — 1B
    Federowicz — C

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it
  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    Hickory can’t catch a break. They had a double header scheduled for today because of a rainout. Todays games have been cancelled due to weather. They may never play again :):):)

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    I don’t know what the deal is with the Rangers and hyphenated ball players, but it must make it tough on the guy that has to fit it all on the back of a uniform:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e5789f8debe0dd699cab2d672fc3252f978808e040fb20e84bdb1d893560c92f.png

    • elkaba

      LOL, It’s one of two things: Either the guy in charge of player acquisition has it in for the uniform guy OR it’s a statistical anomaly, like most everything else in baseball. 🙂

  • elkaba

    Great piece today, Kevin, and spot on. The more I see and hear, the more impressed I am with our new manager and coaches. (And as for selling Woodward’s ideas to the whole pitching staff, it must help that we now have a true bilingual pitching coach in Julio Rangel. And it makes me wonder what might have happened had we kept Martin Perez around.)

    • isittime

      If it makes you feel better, his last two outings 7.1 innings with 11Runs.

      • elkaba

        YES! That makes me feel MUCH better. 🙂

  • elkaba

    I just thought of something else about our newly improved pitching staff. If this keeps up, it will make JD’s job signing FA’s next off season a lot easier. A new climate-controlled ballpark is nice, but knowing you’re going to an organization that knows how to take care of their pitchers and help them shine? That’s priceless.

    • Nate Whitten

      Excellent point.

  • Nate Whitten

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head as opposed to bending it. Smyly pitching guarantees that the only way the Rangers win is by scoring lots of runs, which they are not prepared to do right now. Yes they did in Game 1 yesterday, but they got lots of help from Oakland.
    Sampson was awesome. He overcame what could have been a very rough start and then just mowed down a good hitting team. I think he was just barely over 100 pitches. It is very nice to see that kind of outing, especially in a doubleheader where the ‘pen was used for 5 innings in the 1st game. Speaking of which, Palumbo looked quite good the first time through the lineup. They nailed him in round two. Still, you like to see how he pitched in the first 3 innings. He could be a nice pitcher with a little more seasoning.
    Woodward is making JD look good for hiring him. He is punching the right buttons. One exception: continuing to put Odor out there every day when he needs to be in Nashville. But that may not be his call. It should be.

    • WhoKnowscs

      To top it of Montas is Oakland’s best pitcher.

      • isittime

        The good news they were showing the reverse splits of the A’s hitters yesterday, how much better some of them are on the road vs playing in that sh!thole in Oakland. Not to take anything from Montas, but the those splits don’t reverse for pitchers outside Oakland.

  • elkaba
    • Nate Whitten

      It’s a very good article about the young pitchers we saw yesterday. I drove from Kilgore to Colleyville for the weekend to see daughter, SIL, and 2 granddaughters so I was able to get a late edition of the DMN before I drove back to Eastex this morning. It might not have been in the edition I get at stores around home. Grant is usually on the mark. The Rangers may be developing some pitchers. It looked that way yesterday.
      I do not understand how you folks that live in the metroplex stay sane driving in city traffic. It makes me very uptight to drive 70 mph in heavy traffic. Coming out to DFW on Friday was NOT my idea of a good time.

      • JacobMcCandles

        We have a lot of mineral rights out there…..Grandad was from Henderson and was a QB on the team, my Dad went to Kilgore JC

        • Nate Whitten

          So those mineral rights give you more money than you can spend? We have mineral rights, too. But the only mineral on our land was gravel.

      • elkaba

        LOL, it’s not bad if you know the back roads and avoid traveling at peak times. And it could be worse- what you’re describing is how us Metroplex drivers feel about having to go through Austin! 🙂

        • Rowdy Yates

          Our traffic in Austin is awful all the time. When we moved here in 2006 we could get to downtown (16 miles) in 20-23 minutes. Now it’s anywhere from 35-50 minutes except evening rush hour when it can take over an hour.

          • JacobMcCandles

            Astros called up Alvarez to day

          • elkaba

            We have to pass through on the way to S.A. to visit the Mom in Law. Have tried at least 6 different routes. Through, around, bypass, loop, doesn’t matter how we go. We virtually fly down 35E from Plano and crawl though Austin every time.

          • Rowdy Yates

            Take the I 30 toll loop around Austin on the east side. No traffic, 80 mph but expensive. Should save at least 30 minutes but you still have the San Marcos hassle after it.

          • Nate Whitten

            I think toll roads are a pretty good idea. I do not travel much, so I have not bought a tag. If I ever get to where I don’t hate driving long distances, I would use toll roads. I abhor parking on a freeway.

  • possumrld

    This “sudden’ emergence of “pitching” might also have something to do with the level of talent the Rangers are working with, minus Smyly. And as such some will need to “man up” and say the ugly, “JD word”, and give him some of the credit. I realize that is totally against the principals of some, but truth is truth.
    Because if we are gong to blame JD for everything, when things are gong badly, we need to also give him at least some credit whenever the trend is reversed.
    But hats off to Woody for sure, for noticing this problem, and doing something to help to correct it.

    • JacobMcCandles

      Good point poss, but lets see how it pans out.

      • possumrld

        Jake, 5 games over .500 is the “pan level” right now. And few if any Rangers fans thought that would be the case at any time this seaosn. Sure they may crash and burn starting tomorrow. But for now, I still think JD is due some of the credit.

        • Rowdy Yates

          I sure didn’t think they’d be +5 at this point in the season; and still concerned with the toughest part of the schedule ahead of them. But they’re playing like a + .500 team. Couple guys go into a slump and a couple others go on a rampage for several games to even it out. That’s what good teams do. Still don’t understand why Odor is in the lineup every day and worried about Pence constantly swinging and missing pitches 5″ off the plate but they’re sooooo much better than expected and the pitching is holding up .

          • JacobMcCandles

            Alvarez just hit a HR to straight CF

          • possumrld

            Yes, the Odor thing is a constant thorn in the side to most of us, Rowdy. I think if they had just bit the bullet and sent him down after a month or so of this seaosn, he would already have probably already worked it out, and be on his way back. As it is, we are seeing just a tiny bit of progress, but it is nowhere close to the level we would expect to be seeing by now.
            As far as Pence goes, I think he will work through this. He has still been contributing, but obviously he has been slumping of late.
            And I agree totally about the soft schedule. It is perfect though for maybe getting some kinks worked out. And then perhaps they will be stronger when the schedule finally does get tougher.

          • Nate Whitten

            Stronger schedule starts Monday(now Today). We new Gallo back hitting like he was and DD still contributing. DD in CF and Gallo in LF gives a stronger OF. I’d love a split with Boston and not be distraught with 1-3 given that Gallo is not here.

          • possumrld

            Very well said, Nate! A split would be great, and series win for the Rangers even better, though highly unlikely. But just one Rangers win, or a sweep the other way would be disastrous for the Rangers!

        • JacobMcCandles

          Agreed…..and the bench players have been HRS

        • Rod Harper

          Love him or hate him, JD gets the job done.

    • elkaba

      Don’t forget, Poss, Smyly’s talented, too. Just look at his past record before surgery for proof. You’re right about credit going to JD when things go right. And I have to credit him for a lot more than I thought I would this season with #1 right now, in my book, being hiring Woodward! But the very good and fair reason JD gets the blame for so much, especially any personnel blunders, is simple. That’s his job- the buck stops with him.

      • possumrld

        elk, I guess “talent” is a poor choice for a word to describe my meaning here. I suppose the ability to consistently perform on a professional level, right now, would be a better way to put it, Yes, all of these guys have talent, or they would never have gotten this far. But some of them are on their way up and some are on their way down. And I think Smyly falls into the “down dept”, or of late he has anyway.

        • elkaba

          True, he’s getting a lot more rope than many of us are comfortable with right now. But up until this very weekend, it sure didn’t look like there were any better options to running him out when it was his spot in the rotation. May still be the case- they want the guys in development to stay there.

          And if we credit JD and Woodward with the smarts to do better with the pitching this season than we initially thought they would, we have to give them the same credit when they say they’re not ready to dismiss Smyly yet. All we can do is stay tuned.

          • possumrld

            elk, My comment about Smyly was not to say whether or not they should still be trying to give him more time. It was just an observation. But I do wish they would pull him sooner, when he starts caving in, instead of waiting for 6 or 7 runs to score before making the switch, which they usually end up making anyway, and usually without benefit of any extra innings of any consequence being used up.
            Who knows but what today might be the beginning of a turn around for Smyly? I figure they will cut him loose whenever they think his string has run out.
            In the meantime, we all have to trust management knows many things we aren’t aware of, and just try to be patient. After all, wouldn’t it be a shame if the Rangers cut him loose too soon, and he went on to become a great starter somewhere else, and especially within our division?

          • elkaba

            Aye, there’s the rub!

          • possumrld

            Yes, elk! And that “rub”, as in “rubbing salt in a wound”, has been felt far too often by the Rangers, and their fans over the past 2 or 3 years!

  • WhoKnowscs

    I wonder if today will get rained out/delayed.

    • JacobMcCandles

      Might see a delay….will be able to start if they want

  • elkaba

    Big line of storms just came through here and looks like Arlington, too. Good news- it’s moving fast. Weird for this time of year- coming from the North!

    • JacobMcCandles

      Just now getting here……getting dark

      • elkaba

        It will pass quickly, but it’s a real blast.

        • JacobMcCandles

          Doesn’t look terribly menacing

          • elkaba

            No hail, but a ton of water and straight line wind. Trees got whipped pretty bad.

    • WhoKnowscs

      Just got sprinkles on our skylight in Bedford.

      • WhoKnowscs

        now its heavier.

        • WhoKnowscs

          And now the sun is shining, no rain.

    • LoboTX

      Son in law just sent video from N. Dallas, big tree limbs down all over his yard, downpour going on. My daughter just got diverted from Love Field to Austin. Grandson isn’t happy.

      • elkaba

        It was intense here in Plano, but it passed quickly. No trees down here, but tons of branches and leaves.

        • JacobMcCandles

          Dark and windy. No rain

  • possumrld

    It looks like about another 45 minutes to an hour or so to the first pitch. But it always seems to take half again longer than I think it will.

  • Rod Harper

    While we wait for the matinee get underway, there’s some very good news that happened from the Rangers’ farm system (Class A-Advanced) earlier this afternoon! 🙂

    https://twitter.com/GoWoodDucks/status/1137802491322667008

  • Rod Harper

    Watching U.S. Men’s soccer game on Fox. What an ugly letdown to Venezuela of all teams! The strangest thing that Venezuela is the only country on the South American continent where soccer isn’t the most popular sport!

    • JacobMcCandles

      No….Killing citizens is

      • Rod Harper

        I thought it was baseball.

        • JacobMcCandles

          Its a violent country with one of the worst Dictators

          • Rod Harper

            Maduro and the continuation of the Chavista (Hugo Chavez) ideology, I understand.

    • elkaba

      USMen’sNST is broken badly. USWonem’sNST is going to win the WWC!!!

      • JacobMcCandles

        I am excited……LOL

        • elkaba

          😛

  • Rod Harper

    Play ball! At last!

  • Mr.C

    Playball

  • Mr.C

    I love Hunter Pence

  • elkaba

    Pence!

  • Mr.C

    Oakland seems to be ready for Smyly’s curveball.
    If I’m him, I would not use it during the next few innings.

    • elkaba

      Woodward 101- Whatever they’re looking for, throw something else!

  • JacobMcCandles

    Nice play Cabby

  • Mr.C

    Kevin knows how that feels

  • Mr.C

    Looks like Smyly will hit the 10 days IL very soon.

    https://media3.giphy.com/media/l0IycI0rreFNQwmSQ/giphy.gif

    • GoRangers23

      We can only hope!

    • elkaba

      Yes, please!

    • possumrld

      I am hoping for more like the 6 month DL.

  • Rowdy Yates

    Seems every game Smyly gives up a a multirun HR, or a couple of them, in the 1st few innings. Always puts the Rangers in a hole they have to dig out of.

    • isittime

      He’s not big on a run here or there. He likes to give up runs in bunches, usually by the long ball.

  • isittime

    Best hit all year by rugie

  • isittime

    There’s a walk. Here comes another long ball.

    • isittime

      There it is!

  • elkaba

    Wow! That’s bad. Third inning? I think Poss may be right- keep giving Smyly a chance, but yank him quicker.

    • grumpyderfsmagic8ball

      I vote to send him to A ball

      • elkaba

        The 7 million dollar A baller.

  • elkaba

    He’s really lost it now.

    • isittime

      Too erratic. He gives the team almost no chance on his outings.

  • Mr.C

    That should be the last opposing player Smyly will face tonight.

    Winning a 5-0 game against Oakland’s ace is going to require an act of God.

  • isittime

    Pinder did him a favor putting that pitch in play. You almost have to take a strike against smyly unless he throws a hanger that’s too good to pass up, like Davis got.

  • Rowdy Yates

    Nits and Braymond: I’m sick and tired of y’all explaining to us EVERY EFFING game that Smyly starts what he’s going through like it’s something new or something we just don’t ‘get’. He’s a MLB pitcher making more money this yr than most Americans make in a multitude of yrs. What we ‘get’ is every game he digs a hole the team has to dig out of. So … stop the explanations.

    • possumrld

      Someone needs to face the fact that Smyly just ain’t “got it”. He needs to either agree to go to the farm for awhile, or just go.

      • grumpyderfsmagic8ball

        Amen

    • elkaba

      Nit-Wit are really getting on my nerves today.

  • possumrld

    This is a classic Smyly game. He looks good through maybe the first and second innings. Then, blink twice, and before you know it, the game is already out of reach.

  • Rowdy Yates

    I like Santana. Can hit, run, and field.

    • possumrld

      And throw!

      • Rowdy Yates

        Let him relieve Smyly.

        • possumrld

          lol! He probably would do no worse!

  • Mr.C

    Extend this guy’s contract please.

  • possumrld

    So here we go again! Smyly should have been pulled after he gave up those first two or three runs. Instead, the game is already pretty much out of reach, and essentially a lost cause, and he had to come out anyway.
    What is that old saying, “When someone continues to do the same thing over and over again with the same negative outcome, it is a sign of insanity?”

    • elkaba

      Have to agree. It’s not like he’s getting any better. Give him his chance (you paid $7mil for it) but yank at the first sign of trouble.

      • possumrld

        True! We keep waiting for some improvement, but I see nothing at all that makes me think anything is changing for the better.

        • Rowdy Yates

          Yep, it’s not like Smyly starts a game and each outing he goes a little farther into it before falling apart. Every outing he gets crushed from the gitgo. By inning 3 the Rangers are always down 4 or 5 runs when Smyly pitches. Dump him in AA and let him work his way out of the dumps or just dump him.

  • JacobMcCandles

    I guess Semien is the new Rangers killer….game is over

    • possumrld

      Smyly is the new “Rangers Killer”. It is called self afflicted fatality, or “suicide”, in lay terms.

  • possumrld

    Well, y’all, that ’bout does it for me. I am getting so sick and tired of these “Smyly throw away games”.
    Watching this “Clowny” is making me “Frowny”!
    Later Gators!

  • Rowdy Yates

    So Smyly’s ERA is now 8.40 and I guess the Rangers coaching staff decided this one is lost so why not toss in a reliever who’s ERA is even worse. The Rangers are an equal opportunity employer.

  • Rowdy Yates

    Calm down Raymond … it’s just 2 runs and they’re still behind by 6.

  • WhoKnowscs

    Hit by Pitch leader . . . what an “accomplishment”

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    Pete from Accounting!!!

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    Struck out the side

  • GoRangers23

    Some of these young fellas look promising.

  • GoRangers23

    That guy looks a lot older than just 25 to me.

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    Pete shut down the A;s offence, time for the Ranger’s to get going. Good start by Cabby.

  • Mr.C

    I was looking at the remaining schedule in June:
    4 games at Boston (.515)
    3 games at Cinci (.453)
    4 games against Cleveland (.508)
    3 games against the WSOX (.484)
    3 games at Detroit (.387)
    3 game at Tampa Bay (.625)

    4 out of 6 series away
    Only one series against a winning team.

    Texas should end up with a winning record in June. In my estimation 46-38 after the TB series is a realistic record.

    90 wins baby !!!!

  • dearmidol

    Horrible storms in Lake Highlands. Been out clearing downed limbs for three hours. Just saw Smyly had another meltdown.

    • FatEddy Period, That’s it

      We;re in the middle of one of them right now. Not much rain. Lots of wind and the rain is sideways.

  • Mr.C

    That’s the Odor we saw in ST

  • Mr.C

    Tough strike

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    Stole a page out of Elvis’ playbook.

  • Mr.C

    A walk off win would be HUGE before heading to Boston.

  • Rowdy Yates

    They are scrappy. Would be nice if they didn’t have to spot a team 4-8 runs every 5th start with Smyly. And seeing the steal of home is always great. Can go years without seeing it. Roogie’s had a good day.

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    The old LeClerc is starting to show again. Hope it’s just a fleeting thing.

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    LeClerc is nowhere near the target. All over the place.

    • Mr.C

      It was his shoe laces

      • FatEddy Period, That’s it

        That fixed it.

        • Mr.C

          He should had done that earlier in the inning!

  • WhoKnowscs

    How long until they realize Leclerc can’t handle the ninth inning

  • GoRangers23

    Wow!

  • Rowdy Yates

    What a game. This is why MLB is still the National Pastime for me.

  • elkaba

    Sure wish we could get the concept of situational hitting going with these guys.

    • LoboTX

      And maybe some small ball now and then ? A few more well timed bunts against the shift, some timely Texas-League singles or hitting in the gaps would be welcome in place of always swinging for the fence (warning track).

      Still nice to see some fight and good game for Roogie – loved the steal of home.
      Let’s go beat Boston !

  • GoRangers23

    Ssssssooooooooo. Close!

  • WhoKnowscs

    Almost comebacks are no different than no comebacks.

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    Highlights of the game …. Odor’s steal of home and Pete from Accounting’s two shut out innings.

    Odor’s been coming on for about two weeks. Had a couple good ab’s yesterday one was a 9 or 10 pitch walk. Sure didn’t expect the explosion he had today. A split with Oakland is always nice.

  • WhoKnowscs

    Leclerc in innings 1-6 0.00 ERA

    Leclerc in 7th 3.00 ERA

    Leclerc in 8th 3.00 ERA

    Leclerc in 9th or later . . . 7.98, worst on the team. I think it’s a
    mental block. He always ends up unable to stop trying to K everyone so
    he gets stuck and tries to grove a fastball in that isn’t fooling them.

    • FatEddy Period, That’s it

      Absolutely mental with Leclerc. He’s had that problem at every level from A to the Majors. Somehow he managed to master it for awhile late last year. Alas, it didn’t stick. Smyly’s more than likely in the same boat. Good stuff, but doesn’t have any idea how to command it. He hits the catcher’s target about once every ten pitches. You can have the best game plan in the world, but if you put the pitches in the wrong place you’re going to get killed. All that said, I have no idea what the fix for either one of them is. Probably nobody else does either or it would already be fixed.

    • isittime

      Looks like 6th and maybe sometimes 7th for leclerc.

  • isittime

    Took the boy fishing this afternoon. Looks like the boys tried to roar back, but like the smyly start against the O’s the hole was a little too deep. You

  • FatEddy Period, That’s it

    The Smyly problem. Assuming Smyly is unfixable and the Rangers decide to dump/demote him … Looking over the rosters for an obvious solution and I see none. Less obvious solutions are permanently promote somebody that’s not ready, or promote a marginal guy and hope for the best while figuring out all the required roster machinations. Seth Maness, the semi-TJ guy the Rangers recently picked up from Indie ball appears to be a candidate. He’s sort of mediocre with an era around four. But, two or three runs in five or six innings are better than what Smyly is delivering. That’s assuming he gets the same results in the majors. Tough situation, but that’s why management is management. Us fans don’t have that problem, we can just wing it without worrying about rosters, future impact on prospects, etc. It’s fun that way.

  • Rod Harper
    • GoRangers23

      I really hope he’s ok!

      • Rod Harper

        The last update I heard he was in stable condition. So that’s encouraging.