The Rangers needed a serious upgrade in their rotation and their bullpen. They got a serious upgrade in their rotation.
Will it be enough? The next two months will be telling. At least, for last night, the bullpen worked the way it was supposed to.
The Rangers, as always, were upstaged by the Astros. Texas gets Max Scherzer, the future Hall of Fame pitcher, to shore up a ragged rotation. Houston pulls a rabbit out of their hat and gets Justin Verlander, a future Hall of Fame pitcher, the key to their World Series run last year, and whose leaving left such a void in Houston’s rotation it caused them to stumble all season. He is back, their World Series championship team is back.
The Rangers start the stretch drive month of August with a crisp 2-0 shutout over AL Central opponents the Chicago White Sox. The Astros start their stretch drive month of August with a crisp 2-0 shutout over AL Central opponents the Cleveland Guardians. Only there’s isn’t just a shutout, it’s a no-hitter by their ace Framber Valdez. Suddenly, the magic is back in Houston.
Nobody said it would be easy but the Ranger allowed this to happen. By ignoring their bullpen they let over a dozen games get away that they should have easily won. A ten-game lead would look a lot better than a half-game lead.
The Rangers didn’t land that big bullpen arm they needed. Yes, one could argue they did that when they got Aroldis Chapman. And that is true. But they needed far more than one arm. Yes, one could argue by adding two starters to the rotation, two pitchers from the rotation now go into the bullpen. And that could be true. Depends on if Nathan Eovalid is coming back. And it depends on who it is that goes to the bullpen. Martin Perez, Andrew Heaney, and even Cody Bradford can now slot into the Rangers bullpen. And that is a significant improvement. But, that will also force Bruce Bochy into trial and error mode to see what he has and what they can do out of the pen. And there’s no worse time for experimentation than in the heat of a divisional race.
The Rangers are going to be battling it out with the Astros every day for the next two months. Yesterday, the both won. But, of course, the Astros get the mojo with the Verlander announcement and the no-hitter. And that’s fine. Texas doesn’t need the press. They just need the wins. And they need to get Corey Seager and Nathan Eovaldi back. Jonah Heim, it seems, might not be coming back.
Are Max Scherzer, Jordan Montgomery, Chris Stratton, Austin Hedges, and Aroldis Chapman enough? They’re going to have to be.