Rangers Drop Opener In Oakland
By Eric Reining
Outside Mitch Moreland, the Rangers offense couldn’t muster much of anything vs. Oakland’s starter, A.J. Griffin, and the A’s defeated Texas 5-1 on Monday night.
Ranger starter Justin Grimm went 5.0 innings, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, issuing 2 walks and striking out 3. From a command standpoint, Grimm had no problem throwing strikes; his problem is that too many of his strikes were bad strikes. A good indicator of how good a pitcher’s “stuff” is on a given night is reflected by their Swinging Strike%; last night Grimm’s SwStr% was just 5.6%.
In consecutive plate appearances in the bottom of the 3rd inning on Monday night, Justin caked a couple pitches over the heart of the plate to Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss, and they were deposited into the bleachers accordingly.
Over his last 3 starts Grimm has gone 0-3 with a 7.02 ERA, allowing 13 runs on 21 hits — with 9 walks and 19 strikeouts in 16.2 IP. Bleh. In his first 3 starts of ’13 he went 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA, so his recent struggles are a sign that reality is probably setting in. Ideally Justin Grimm would be pitching in Round Rock right now, but with Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis on the shelf his presence has become necessary at the big league level. If you asked me before the year started if I would be satisfied with Grimm producing +0.7 fWAR in 2013 — the figure he’s currently at — I would gladly have taken it.
With Monday’s loss the Rangers fall to 24-14, though they still remain 5.0 games better than the A’s, who made it back to .500 (20-20) with the win.
(For the record, earlier today the Angels lost 11-4 to Kansas City, dropping their record to 14-24. Ouch.)
A few things:
– Given the stage of the season we’re in, and given the injuries to core members of the team like Lewis and Harrison, A.J. Pierzynski, Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz, the Rangers should feel fortunate to be in the position they are in. Don’t get me wrong, pound for pound there isn’t another team in the AL West I’d take to beat Texas in a 7-game series. But with 40% of our rotation belonging to Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm, it’s fair to say it’s expected that their early luck starts to even out. That makes starts by guys like Yu Darvish and Derek Holland that much more imperative.
– 40 games is a small sample, but Ian Kinsler (-1.8 UZR) is currently on pace for his worst defensive season since 2008. And on an unimportant-but-still-worth-mentioning note, Kins leads all 2nd MLB 2nd basemen in errors with 7.
I’ve been under the impression since the season started that at some point, perhaps as early as this July or August and, at the latest, next spring, Ian Kinsler will be moved off 2nd to make room for Jurickson Profar. I’ve always been a believer in Ian Kinsler’s leather, but with where the Rangers are heading in 2013, they will be a better team with Profar on the roster in some capacity, and that will probably be at the expense of the position Kinsler occupies in the field, at least to some degree.
– Tonight Derek Holland is pitching, and I want the Rangers to win. That’s pretty much that.