Learning from frustration.

Martín Pérez left the game with a 5-1 lead his bullpen would eventually cough up.

It’s frustrating to lose a game like the Rangers did yesterday. Up 5-1 with one of the best pitchers in baseball, an All-Star in fact, on the mound. Then you take him out after five. And they Rangers plunging bullpen plunged further.

But when you look at the Mariners on the other side, you see what the Rangers were hoping would happen to them this year. 

Seattle was languishing at under .500, just like the Rangers were. They couldn’t get anything going. Texas was the same way. Get close, fall back, get close, fall back. As their manager Chris Woodward would say in his eternal optimism, they were just “this close” to a small run in the standings that make a difference.

That small run didn’t happen to the Rangers. It happened to the Mariners. Seattle came into Arlington having won ten games in a row. Yet, they were 29-39 on June 19. That same day, Texas was 31-35, three games better.

Since then, Seattle has won eighteen games and lost three. Texas, on the other hand, has won ten and lost twelve.

The Rangers need to look at Seattle as a model of what they need to do. It wasn’t realistic, and really nobody in the front office was claiming they would, for the Texas Rangers to make the playoffs in 2022. You don’t go from losing 102 games to playoff caliber. Seattle, on the other hand, missed the playoffs last year on the last day of the season. 

Seattle has been slowly building a base of talented prospects, like the Rangers are trying to do. When they got close, they went out and made some trades for two veteran hitters. Texas signed two major free agents. The newly acquired offense on both teams started out debilitatingly slow but have since gotten hot.

The big difference is, the Mariners have pitching. The Rangers have guys who are, due to baseball’s bylaws, required to stand on the pitching mound and deliver pitches to the opposing team.

The point of all of this is, the Rangers are making progress. It doesn’t happen overnight, over one season, or even two. This team is mediocre. Nobody wants that. But the last few seasons it has been god awful. And on the scale of respectability, mediocre is a vast improvement over god awful. 

The Rangers are building toward better. Seager and Semien are two huge starts. It appears maybe Leodys Taveras is figuring it out. Mitch Garver was a great addition but he played hurt most of the season. Jonah Heim is getting better at the plate all the time (which will make it awkward next year when Garver is back because the plan was for Heim to backup Garver and Heim has proven he’s not a backup catcher). Josh Smith might be the Rangers version of Seattle’s Ty France.

Seattle had a head start. Their farm system is producing gems. Texas’s hasn’t. So, the Rangers are going to need to do what they did this past off season. Buy the talent they cannot grow themselves. Make some smart trades. 

And invest in pitching pitching pitching pitching and more pitching.

As last night’s game showed. They are getting better. But they have a long way to go.