Strong Starts


Admittedly I’m still suffering from writer’s block, or whatever the force is called that doesn’t compel me to the front of my keyboard after every last pitch of every game all season long. But whatever. Yesterday it was a joy to watching Justin Grimm slug through 6.0 innings — seemingly all with at least a minor threat — allowing just 2 runs, striking out 9 hitters.

– Most talent evaluators aren’t as high on Grimm as Martin Perez, or the younger Cody Buckel, for instance, but it’s plainly evident that he has a Major League-ready two-pitch mix (fastball/curveball), and for the most part he commands it quite well. Yesterday against the Mariners, Grimm’s curveball was nearly un-hittable, helping him induce 15 swings-and-misses — good for a SwStr% of a Darvish-esque 14.6%.

– If we extrapolated each player’s current WAR (as per FanGraphs) over an entire season, here is how several of the regulars would look —

Elvis Andrus: 0.0

Adrian Beltre: -0.9

Ian Kinsler: +8.1

Lance Berkman: +5.4

Craig Gentry: +3.6

Mitch Moreland: -2.7

A.J. Pierzynski: +1.8

Jeff Baker: +1.8

Nelson Cruz: +0.9

Yu Darvish: +11.7

And that’s why we don’t draw conclusions off 18-game samples.

– This week begins with the Rangers playing a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels, the team believed to impose the biggest competition on Texas before the season began. Through 18 games the Rangers are 12-6; LAA is 7-10 through 17.

– Tonight’s matchup features Derek Holland and Joe Blanton; I’ll be at the game tomorrow night to see Alexi Ogando and Jason Vargas; Wednesday is Yu Darvish vs. Tommy Hanson.

Basically, it would be nice to take two out of three.

– This weekend against the Mariners certainly had its dramatic moments, but ultimately the Rangers outscored Seattle 23-3, pitching two of the team’s four shutouts on the season.

– Texas still hasn’t lost a series this year.

My personal thoughts of the team’s first few weeks are simple: I’m happy. Skeptically, I proceeded into this season with more trepidation than I’ve grown accustomed to with the Rangers, so for the team to be in first place after 18 games is … well … as much as anyone could ask for.

When you factor in that Texas is currently without their #2 starter (Matt Harrison), #3 starter (Colby Lewis), #6 starter (Martin Perez), two of its three-best bullpen arms (Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz), and the potential impact of Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt — then you are looking at a team fully capable of winning 90+ games and competing deep into September for an AL West title.