The Texas Rangers are doing exactly what they should be doing.
To cite my great former colleague, Mr. Randy Galloway, now would be a good time to sound the “RANGERS COLLAPSE WARNING.”
The Rangers are both indeed collapsing, and evening out.
The Rangers lost on Tuesday night against the Houston Astros, 14-1. It was so bad the Rangers pulled shortstop Corey Seager in the middle of the game, and he wasn’t injured.
A six-month, 162-game regular season exposes all teams, and that painful process is doing just that to a club that was projected to finish not near the top of their division, but right around .500.
According to most oddsmakers, the over/under on the Rangers’ 2023 win total was 82 1/2. They’re going to reach the over (right?), but this was a team that three weeks ago looked like it could push for 95.
The Rangers won 68 games last season, but the first four months of this season were so encouraging, and sometimes historic, that winning the division looked more inevitable than fantasy.
The sequel to their historic start is a finish that is beginning to look equally historic. Add them together and it will lead them to the place where they were originally projected, closer to the middle.
On Aug. 15, the Rangers were 72-48. After Tuesday night’s loss, they have since ripped off 14 losses in their last 18 games.
What looked like a World Series team one month ago now looks like a team that is doomed to miss the playoffs. If they somehow miss the postseason, there is one option: Blame the former GMs, and the current one, too.
The Rangers have the ninth-highest payroll in MLB, and all of that cash still can’t fix what former GM Jon Daniels held countless staff meetings to address: Why can’t the Texas Rangers develop their own pitching?
Not sure even God knows the answer to that one.
Rangers GM Chris Young is now experiencing the hell that Daniels and so many men before him, from Tom Grieve to Doug Melvin to John Hart, all lived.
“Rangers Pitching” could be an entire series of “Unsolved Mysteries.”
Entering play Tuesday, the Rangers’ bullpen “boasted” an ERA of 4.86, good for 25th in the big leagues. The overall team ERA of 4.18 is 18th in MLB.
Unless these numbers change, the Rangers’ direction isn’t going to deviate from this sad path.
On April 9, the Rangers were in first place in the American League West, a spot they held through Aug. 27. On June 23, they had a 6 1/2 game lead in the division.
They were in first because the starting pitching and offense compensated for a bullpen that had/has issues.
After Tuesday’s beat down against the Astros, the Rangers are in third place, two games behind first, and now tied with Toronto for the final wild card spot.
They are in third because the offense can no longer cover a pitching staff, specifically a bullpen, that has no reliable arms.
Killing manager Bruce Bochy is trendy, but his bullpen is loaded with pitchers he cannot trust. He has to call one of them when his private inclination would be to avoid all of them.
The trade acquisition of power reliever Aroldis Chapman initially helped, but he has been roadkill the last two weeks.
Since Aug. 21, Chapman has allowed runs in five of his six appearances; in 5 2/3 innings, he’s given up five runs.
Over the course of a season, this isn’t alarming. Right now, this is panic-level material; he’s their best reliever, and if he gives up a run it means one of two things: He gave up the lead and/or the Rangers just lost.
The Rangers have 26 saves, 26th-best in MLB. They have more blown saves than saves (26 to 29).
At this rate, the Rangers aren’t likely to break the hallowed MLB record for blown saves in a season, 36 by the Washington Nationals in 2021.
Sunday’s victory over the Minnesota Twins, delivered by outfielder Adolis Garcia’s walk-off home run, had all of the features necessary to spin a team in the right direction.
The Rangers followed that by allowing the Astros to have batting practice the next day in a 13-6 loss.
Rangers’ starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi is back from the injured list, and he needs to return to his All-Star level immediately. He didn’t.
On Tuesday night, he allowed five hits and four runs in 1 1/3 innings.
The Rangers have 24 games remaining, and they have no time left to lose, or a season that started off with a historic beginning will be defined by its historic crash that will leave them right in the middle.