Playoffs in July.

The Rangers need the All-Stars to come out of the gate playing like All-Stars.

This is always a critical moment for a team. Coming out of the All-Star break, there’s always a team that struggles. There’s always a team that takes off. 

If they struggle, it’s blamed on too much rest for the players who didn’t play in the All-Sar Game, too little rest for the players who did.

If they soar, it’s credited to all the rest the players got who didn’t play got, and the ones who did were able to stay sharp.

Excuses are the cheapest commodity in baseball.

The Rangers hit the break this year in first place, but barely. With an offense running on fumes, starting pitching that is starting to show its true colors, and a bullpen that is a horror show waiting to be unleashed.

This is the first July that matters for the Rangers in seven years. But this is a new era in Rangers baseball. They finally have a manager who knows how to manage. They have a team full of All-Stars. They have a window of opportunity they haven’t had in a long long time. And they have nine home games to start the second half.

These first nine games, really twelve, are going to be the key to all of this.

With the way this team stumbled heading into the break, they really need to come out strong. It won’t be easy, they’ll be tested right away. They play three against the first-place team in the AL Central, then three against the first-place team in the AL East, then three against the first-place team in the NL West. Then they go to Houston and play three.

The next twelve games are going to say a lot about the Texas Rangers. They have playoff-caliber opponents. Can they play playoff-caliber baseball? 

We’re going to find out.