Usually when a team plays the role of spoiler, it’s a nice way of saying they are hopelessly out of the race but can in some small way still be significant by beating teams that are trying to stay in the race.
It’s the most backhanded of compliments.
The Rangers are playing spoiler of a different kind.
Cleveland came into town in first place. They left in second place. Their bullpen came into town ranked best in baseball. They left town not the best.
Tampa Bay came into town in first place. They left in second place. Their bullpen came into town having replaced Cleveland’s as the best in baseball. They leave town not the best.
Now the Los Angeles Dodgers come into town. They are in first place, just two games up over Arizona and San Francisco. Their bullpen, however, isn’t much better than the Rangers. LA’s bullpen EA is ranked nineteenth in baseball at 4.21. Texas’s is twenty-fifth at 4.42. Rangers starters are ranked second in baseball, by the way, with a 3.63 ERA. LA’s is seventeenth at 4.54.
After skidding into the All-Star break, the Rangers come into this three-game Dodgers series having won six straight and playing their best baseball. They are starting to get their bullpen solved. And they added two games to their lead over the Astros.
Mainly, they have their confidence back. And that is a dangerous thing for their opponents. Let’s hope they spoil the Dodger’s first place hopes as well.