Often it’s the little changes that make a big difference.
When you look around the landscape of baseball, most teams bat their most productive player second. That’s where Mike Trout bats. That’s where Paul Goldschmidt bats. For far too long the Rangers batted their least productive hitter there.
Until last night. When they finally relieved Rougned Odor of two-hole duties and installed Elvis Andrus in his place.
The dividends paid off immediately. The missing Rangers offense returned.
This is not to say Rougned Odor won’t eventually find it. He has been in these funks before and always comes out on the other end. He is a amazing month/miserable month player. Either or. No in-between. April was a horrible month. May seems to be lining up that way too. June could be amazing.
The other little big change was Jose Leclerc pitching in the seventh instead of the ninth. In the ninth, he was serving it up like a soup kitchen. Everyone was feasting on him. His pitches weren’t missing the meat of the plate, or the barrel of a bat. Last night, he faced three batters. Ground out. Two strikeouts. When he walked off the field, he threw his hands to the heavens. It was as if he wasn’t sure he was ever going to be effective again, and suddenly he was.
Just like suddenly Odor will be. But he’s not now. And when he’s not, you don’t put him in the most rally killing situation possible.
Elvis Andrus is the better choice as the second-place hitter. Shawn Kelley is the better choice as the closer.
Now that they have the roles right, time to work on the rotation. That might take a few years.