Game 40: Rangers Take Opening Game In Lonestar Battle


It wasn’t pretty. Neftali Feliz walked the opposing pitcher and didn’t make it through five innings but it worked. Robbie Ross picked Feliz up and in the process picked up his fifth win in relief. Then, Koji Uehara and Joe Nathan shut the door and Texas came away with the 4-1 victory.

Feliz walked five and was the latest appearance from a non-Japanese starting pitcher to raise questions about the Rangers staff. Like we have said many times on this site, you have to be careful in judging on the recent past. It was not even a month ago that we were saying the Rangers were one of the best rotations in baseball. Now, it’s not being said anywhere. But the thing to remember is that the true Rangers rotation is somewhere in between the awesome and the not so awesome.

The good news is that the Rangers bullpen is very, very good. Yes, they have had troubles due to being over worked lately, but from top to bottom, there aren’t many groups of relievers that are better. Yes there were questions about Mark Lowe and Koji but most teams have questions about their fifth and sixth relievers. The reality is that Lowe and Uehara could be set up men with most other teams in baseball.

Also, the reality of it is that if the Rangers hit like they should hit, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. When Mitch Moreland is a platoon player, and he can step in and hit two home runs, you have a loaded team. That’s why the team doesn’t have to resign Josh Hamilton. Yes, he is the best hitter on the team, but you can replace him much like the Cardinals did with Albert Pujols. You don’t want to assume too much risk when signing Hamilton especially when it comes to his injury and personal history.

Today, is the second game of the series and Derek Holland (3-2, 3.78 ERA/3.18 FIP) will face off against right handed pitcher Lucas Harrell (2-3, 4.40 ERA/3.84 FIP).

In his last start, Holland had a hard luck no-decision when Mike Adams allowed the tying run in Cleveland before Adrian Beltre hit a homerun in extra innings. It was his best start after a string of disappointing outings but Holland is better than his ERA and even his record shows.

Harrell is a groundball pitcher as his 55% GB would show. His K/9 rate is currently 4.40 which is quite low (and lower than vaunted pitch-to-contact pitcher Tommy Milone who the Rangers saw against the Athletics.) Harrell is a quite good pitch-to-contact pitcher, though. Harrell allows very few homeruns and that is because of his fastball which is probably pretty close to a sinker. He throws it 70% of the time which is the fifth most used fastball among Major League qualified starters. He pretty much dares you to swing at his fastball and try to do something with it. Let’s see if the Rangers can do something with it.