3 Takeaways from Rangers Series Loss to The Twins

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Apr 26, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder Delino DeShields (3) is doused with Powerade by second baseman Rougned Odor (12) after the win over the Minnesota Twins at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder Delino DeShields (3) is doused with Powerade by second baseman Rougned Odor (12) after the win over the Minnesota Twins at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Rangers lose their fourth series of the season dropping two of three against the Minnesota Twins. The team falls further behind the first place Astros.

The Texas Rangers lose another series, this time to the Minnesota Twins. After sweeping a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals and moving to within one game below .500, the Rangers drop two of three falling to 10-12.

Despite scoring 14 runs in the series finale yesterday, the offense continued to struggle mightily in the first two games. Perhaps a 14 run outburst is the jumpstart the offense needs heading forward.

After the series loss the Rangers find themselves in fourth place, 4.5 games behind the Houston Astros, who can’t seem to lose.

Three Takeaways

1. Andrew Cashner’s struggle with command will come back to haunt him at some point

On paper, Andrew Cashner had another decent start, only giving up two runs against the Twins on Tuesday. However, he continued to struggle with his command. If these struggles continue, Cashner is going to pay for it dearly.

He only lasted four innings after throwing 95 pitches, an absurdly high amount for that few of innings.

In those four innings Cashner walked six batters, a season high for him so far, also giving up five hits. Somehow, he only gave up two runs despite allowing 11 baserunners. This continues what has been a lucky start to the season for the right hander.

His 7.63 walks per nine innings is the third highest in baseball. Tyler Glasnow is currently giving up the second most walks with a 7.63 ERA, Cashner’s ERA is 2.93.

More from Nolan Writin'

A high walk rate is never a good thing, but a pitcher with a high strikeout rate can still find success despite being inefficient. Brandon Finnegan is walking 8.10 batters per nine, the most in baseball. However he also strikes out the third most batters per nine innings resulting in a 2.70 ERA and a 2.87 FIP, showing that his success is sustainable.

Cashner’s success on the other hand, is a different story. His .62 strikeouts per walk is the lowest in all of baseball by a healthy margin and his 6.17 FIP is the 10th highest. The 3.24 point difference between his ERA and FIP is the biggest margin in the league.

Cashner has benefited from good luck so far. However if he continues to struggle with his command his good luck could run out quickly.

2. There shouldn’t be a “starting left fielder” yet

Yesterday the Rangers announced that Ryan Rua would be the everyday left fielder moving forward. In his first game as the starter Rua went 2-5 including an opposite field grand slam for his first home run of the year.

While he had an impressive showing last night, he still hasn’t shown enough to be penciled in as the starter above Delino DeShields and Jurickson Profar.

His 30 wRC+ is the lowest among the three candidates even with his performance a night ago. The biggest knock against Rua is his inability to hit right-handed pitching.

Last season Rua had a .683 OPS against right-handed pitching compared to his .795 OPS against left handers. His grand slam last night was only his second hit against right-handed pitching in 15 at-bats.

If the starting job is going to go to whoever is performing the best, Delino DeShields should be the leading candidate. He’s the only one of the three with a positive WAR. While his 79 wRC+ is low by league standards, its 48 points higher than Jurickson Profar and 49 points higher than Rua.

His defense and base-running ability has proven to be valuable assets neither Rua nor Profar can provide.

The Rangers still have one of the worst left field units in terms of production. Until someone sticks out from the rest, there should be no set in stone starter.

3. The Rangers need to get Robinson Chirinos in the lineup everyday

Robinson Chirinos is currently second on the team in WAR despite only playing eight games. The backup catcher leads the team in batting average, ISO, OBP, SLG, OPS and wRC all while providing his always reliable defense.

Chirinos has done enough to warrant more playing time, especially with Jonathan Lucroy’s struggles. However, due to Lucroy’s reputation and track record it’s hard to imagine him being benched in favor of Chirinos.

Instead, the Rangers need to get creative if they want to keep him in the lineup. Chirinos does have experience at first base and with Mike Napoli going to the plate with a hole in his bat it would make sense. But he hasn’t played there since 2013 when he spent 30 innings at the position netting a -48.5 UZR/150. Yeah, that’s not a pretty number.

The Rangers could move Shin-Soo Choo back to the outfield and let Chirinos DH, thus solving both the left field situation and the Chirinos playing time situation. Two birds one stone.

However, DH’ing your backup catcher is widely frowned upon and just plain bad strategy. This because an injury to the starting catcher would force the team to forfeit the DH, making the pitcher hit.

A logical solution would be to give up on the big bullpen and call up a third catcher. Brett Nicholas saw success in his cup of coffee a season ago, and has performed well in his limited playing time at Triple-A Round Rock thus far.

At 28 years old the Rangers wouldn’t have to worry about stunting another younger catchers development and it opens up more playing time for prospects like A.J. Jimenez and Jose Trevino against Triple-A competition.

This would allow Chirinos to DH without the risk of surrendering the DH in case of injury. It could also allow Lucroy to DH on his days off to keep his bat in the lineup.

The Diamondbacks, Tigers, Mets and Cubs (if you still consider Kyle Schwarber a catcher) have all seen early success this season with three catchers on their roster.

Looking forward

The Rangers hope to build on what’s been a 5-2 home stand so far with a three game weekend series against the Angels.

This will be the second meeting between the two teams with the Rangers leading the season series 2-1. The team was one Sam Dyson meltdown away from sweeping the first series of the season.

Next: Rangers Lose Rule-5 Pick

The Angels have won four of their last five games and are currently second in the American League West with a record of 11-12.

Game one – Tyler Skaggs (1-1, 4.44 ERA) vs. Nick Martinez (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

Game two – Jesse Chavez (2-3, 4.13 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (2-2, 3.03 ERA)

Game three – TBD vs. Martin Perez (1-3, 3.81 ERA)

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