August Schedule Provides Rangers a Chance to Jump in Standings
By Josh McSwain
With an unusually good homestand (7-3 over 10 games), the Rangers went into an off-day Thursday just five games back of the Astros for the division lead. To make things better, their next five series are all winnable. The Rangers head to Seattle to play a three game set with the Mariners starting on Friday, then play three against the sinking Twins in Minnesota before coming home to play a three game set against the Rays and another three game set against the Mariners. After a short homestand they travel to Detroit to take on the Tigers, who have begun the process of rebuilding. Of those five series, only the Twins are .500 or better, but they have lost five straight heading into their series in Cleveland starting on Friday. The Rangers cannot get complacent in these next few series, because they have not fared well against bad teams this season.
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The next challenging tests for the Rangers come starting August 25, when the Blue Jays and Orioles come to Arlington. Two of the contenders for a Wild Card spot are going to come in hungry for wins, as they compete against the Rangers for playoff positioning. The Jays took two of three from the Rangers in Toronto earlier this season, while the Rangers took three of four against the Orioles in Baltimore.
But I don’t think the Rangers have their sights set on a Wild Card spot. I think this team is gunning for the division championship.
After sweeping the Astros, the Rangers are just five games behind them for the division lead and only three back of the Angels for second place. A 12-7 start to the second half of the season has boosted their position in the standings considerably. A big part of the recent surge has been staying healthy. During the slump in June, Josh Hamilton and Delino DeShields missed significant time. Now both are back as are Derek Holland and Martin Perez in the rotation. Now with Yovani Gallardo and Cole Hamels and Nick Martinez, the Rangers can hold their own as far as rotations go.
In September, the real race begins. Starting September 4th, the Rangers play three games in LA against the Angels. Starting the 14th they host the Astros for four then play three in Houston from the 25th-27th and end the season with four against the Angels from October 1-4 in Arlington. They are the only two teams the Rangers face currently with a winning record over the last month of the season. The Rangers have fared well against the Astros this season, winning 8 of 12. However, they have won just 4 of 12 against the Angels. Surprisingly, during the first half of the season, they fared worse against their other two divisional opponents. The Rangers are 4-9 so far this season against the A’s and 1-5 against the Mariners.
With all the games they have against the two teams they are looking up at in the division, it is paramount that the Rangers take advantage of their slate in August to make the September games meaningful. Currently, the Rangers have the softest remaining schedule in the AL, with the rest of their opponents winning just 49% of their games. They are the only team in the AL with an opponent’s winning percentage under 50%, according to playoffstatus.com. Furthermore, they project the Rangers have about a 1/3 chance of making the postseason. Check out their complete odds here.