Just one month again, on Friday, August 26, the Texas Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers 7-6. At one point, they had a 7-2 lead in that game but their bullpen and their defense couldn’t let that stand without some monumental struggle.
In the end, the Rangers pulled out that game. It was the eleventh game of Tony Beasley’s managerial career. With that win, the Rangers had gone 7-4 under Beasley.
Playoff tickets were being printed.
Then the Rangers lost the next two against Detroit. And the next two against Houston. Then the next four against Boston. Then two out of three against Houston again. Two out of three against Toronto. They split a two-gamer against Miami and Oakland. Then lost two of three against Tampa Bay.
When dust from the wreckage settled, the Rangers have lost 20 of their past 25 games. They currently sit at 65-87. With ten games remaining to play—seven of which are against teams fighting for the playoffs—only a miracle prevents them from another 90-loss season.
Is it too simple to blame the culprit only on pitching? Will three top-of-the-rotation arms make that much difference?
It certainly can’t hurt. One thing about a 90-loss season is, it’s not really too far from .500. Simple math tells you that nine fewer losses separate a ninety-loss team from a .500 team. Just nine. Yet the perception is that’s those two teams are miles apart.
If the Rangers had won just eleven more games, they’d be hovering at .500. Eleven is a lot of games, for sure. But that’s also not a lot of games. Replace all those dreadful starts from Taylor Hearn and Colby Allard and Glenn Otto and Dane Dunning and Kohei Arihara and Dallas Keuchel and Spencer Howard and Cole Ragans with quality major league pitching, and it’s easy to envision making up those eleven wins.
Get twenty-five starts from, say, Carlos Rodon, who can opt out and be a free agent, and those eleven wins are easily there, .500 is attainable.
Now, get twenty-five starts from Aaron Nola or—dreaming alter—Jacob deGrom (both of whom can opt out), and you can see another dozen wins. Which takes them considerably over .500 and into playoff talk.
The problems are solvable. This team is sinking but, fortunately, it’s no longer sinking in quicksand. Although the next ten games won’t help that perception.