The Texas Rangers move to third place in the American League West and one game below .500 after a four game series sweep of the Kansas City Royals.
The early season emotional roller coaster is fun isn’t it? Just four days ago the Texas Rangers were in last place in the American League West with the second worst record in all baseball. The sky appeared to be falling and Elvis Andrus was Chicken Little trying to piece it back together.
Fast forward four games and the Rangers are only one game below .500 and third place in the AL West. The team completed a four game sweep of the Kansas City Royals yesterday bringing their record to 9-10, four games behind the first place Astros and one game behind second place.
The Rangers also swept the Royals in a four game series a season ago. It’s the first time since 2013 that a team has swept an opponent in two consecutive four game series. The Rangers haven’t done it since 1978.
1. The starting rotation continues to dazzle
The starting rotation gave up a grand total of four runs throughout the entire series. In fact, the Royals only scored five runs total, barley averaging over one run a game.
The dominate series now leaves the Rangers with the second lowest starting rotation ERA in all of baseball at 3.04, .26 points ahead of the third place Nationals. What’s remarkable is the rotation has been able to do this without Tyson Ross and with only two starts so far from Andrew Cashner.
Speaking of Andrew Cashner, he’s been great so far. He pitched six scoreless innings against the Royals only allowing three hits while striking out three. However he did walk four batters bringing his season total to seven walks through 11.1 innings, he has the seventh highest walk rate in baseball.
Yu Darvish continues to look like an ace pitching another gem yesterday afternoon. The ace is currently averaging the lowest strikeout rate of his career but is also producing the lowest pull and fly ball rate. Since his rough Opening Day outing Darvish has a 2.39 ERA striking out 27 batters in 26.1 innings.
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Perhaps the biggest surprise was Nick Martinez, who filled in for A.J. Griffin upon his trip to the disabled list. Martinez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Friday night eventually only giving up one run in seven innings.
Martinez looked like a completely different pitcher than the one we’ve seen in his previous big league stints. His average fastball velocity was nearly two MPH faster than his career average and he threw his curveball and changeup at a much higher percentage using them effectively.
2. The bullpen is starting to not be awful
Here’s a fun statistic, since Sam Dyson went on the disabled list a week ago the Rangers have had a top ten bullpen.
The bullpen has not allowed a blown save since Dyson went to the DL yet they still lead all of baseball in blown saves with five. That’s just to put into perspective how bad the start of the season was.
Matt Bush converted his first save attempt as a closer yesterday afternoon. The flamethrower has responded incredibly well to his increased role in the bullpen. He’s given up only one hit in three innings since Dyson’s DL stint, striking out five batters without allowing a walk.
3. The offense is still struggling
Four game sweeps are great, ugly or not, and this one was ugly for the Rangers. They only outscored the Royals by nine which is incredibly low for a four game sweep. Especially when the other team only scored five runs throughout the entire series.
Since the series win in Anaheim almost two weeks ago, the team has scored the eighth fewest runs in all of baseball. Their abysmal .183 collective team batting average has been the second worst in baseball and the worst in the American League.
Over the four game sweep the Rangers hit .214 and with runners in scoring position hit .167, the fourth lowest in all of baseball over that four game stretch.
If the Rangers want to keep their hot streak going they are going to need a big time improvement from the lineup.
The Rangers continue a lengthy home stand tonight, starting a three game set with the Minnesota Twins.
After starting the season a league best 5-1 the Twins have lost nine of their last 12 games. The Rangers will be the Twins first non-American League Central opponent.
Game two – Ervin Santana (3-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (0-1, 2.38 ERA)