Texas Rangers: On Deck-Tampa Bay Rays

May 28, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) celebrates scoring a run in the third inning during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
May 28, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) celebrates scoring a run in the third inning during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

After their long stretch of road games, the Rangers return home to Texas to take on the Tamp Bay Rays. The Rangers were able to snap their five-game losing streak on Sunday when they defeated the Blue Jays 3-1.

It was a rough road trip for the Texas Rangers as they went 3-6 to drop back under .500. They’ll be happy to play in front of a friendly crowd after their cold greeting in Toronto. The Rangers have been much better at home this year, with a 16-8 record. Tampa Bay on the other hand, have struggled to find success on the road as they are 11-13 outside of the confines of Target Field.

As of late, Tamp Bay has been pretty good, winning four of their past five games. Their last game on Sunday lasted fifteen innings but they were able to come out on top of Minnesota 8-6.

Here’s a look at the matchups this series has to offer:

Monday, May 29 (Ramirez vs. Perez)

Martin Perez looked good in his last start versus the Boston Red Sox. It was just his misfortune that Sam Dyson blew his chance at a win as when he left the game, the Rangers were still up 3-1.

Really since the month of May began, Martin Perez has performed well. Through his four starts, his ERA is just 3.16 and his WHIP has been at a 1.17. In each of those games, he lasted at least six innings.

Since he’s pitching at home, the likelihood of him continuing his success is high. Both of Perez’s wins so far have come at Globe Life Park and his ERA at home is nearly a full point lower than his ERA on the road.

Erasmo Ramirez is scheduled to take the mound for the Rays but that may not be the case. If it is, it’ll be a tough matchup as the Rays have won all three games Ramirez has started. He has never allowed more than two earned runs in a start.

Primarily a reliever, Ramirez made his first start on April 20 and picked up a win before heading back to the bullpen. He made his next start nearly a month later but appears to be in the starting rotation now as his next appearance was to start a game as well.

However, because Sunday’s game went 15 innings, Ramirez was called in to close it out in the final inning. More than likely, the Rays will not start him less than 24 hours later but we will have to wait and see.

Prediction: Martin Perez pitches a great game and the Rangers come out on top. The Rays bullpen is depleted and it shows as they burned eight pitchers across the span of Sunday’s six and a half hour-long game.

Tuesday, May 30 (Andriese vs. Martinez)

Nick Martinez has struggled to find a groove after his early success. In the month of May, he’s accumulated an ERA of 5.60 while giving up 35 hits in just 27.1 innings. He did however, recently collect his first win on this road trip and hopes to build on it.

Like Perez, Martinez pitches far better in Arlington than outside of it. The difference in his ERA is even more drastic, with a 3.32 ERA at home and a 5.91 ERA away. He’s going to have to be at the top of his game though if he wants to collect his second win of the season.

That’s because Matt Andriese will be taking the mound for the Rays. Matt hasn’t been around the league for long but he’s having a stellar year so far. He’s 5-1 on the season with a 3.24 ERA.

And he’s been even better in May. Throughout the month, Andriese has recorded four wins and has yet to put a notch in the loss column. His ERA has been under 3.00 (just 2.67), and he’ll be coming off a start where he tossed eight scoreless innings.

Prediction: It’s a close one but the Rays edge out the Rangers.

Wednesday, May 31 (Archer vs. ?)

With A.J. Griffin on the 10-day DL, the Rangers have yet to name a starter for Wednesday’s game. There’s a couple of different routes I could see Jeff Bannister going here.

First, he could simply bump Yu Darvish up from his scheduled start on Friday to Wednesday. Darvish has pitched on short rest before and it wouldn’t be a particularly surprising move to have him pitch. His last start was on Saturday in Toronto where he threw 109 pitches. Because he had such a high pitch count, I would give him the extra two days rest to recover before his next start.

Second, Alex Claudio could start again. Claudio had the first start of his career back on May 2 and he did fairly well. He only pitched four innings but since he’s typically a reliever, that’s to be expected. He did give up a pair of home runs as half of his four hits, leading to three runs, but he kept the Rangers in the game at least, giving them an opportunity to win. This is the move I most expect for Bannister to make.

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Third, Austin Bibens-Dirkx gets the nod. Personally, this is my favorite option. Who doesn’t love the story of a 32-year-old that stuck it out in the minors and independent leagues for nearly 12 years to finally get his shot? But despite all the odds, Austin has actually been successful for the Rangers in his appearances so far this season. Admittedly it’s a small sample size but Bibens-Dirkx has already pitched in long relief of four or more innings on two occasions. In those combined 8.2 innings, he’s allowed just three runs off of five hits while fanning seven. Plus, he’s had a lot of experience as a starter at lower levels. To me, Austin Bibens-Dirkx is the man to start on Wednesday.

Regardless of who Bannister decides upon, they’ll more than likely be facing Chris Archer. His 4-3 record doesn’t give a proper description of how well he’s pitched this year. There are three things that he’s particularly apt at.

One is that he doesn’t give up the long ball. Opposing teams have combined for just six home runs in eleven games this year. And that includes Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, and the Yankees twice. Two, he can go deep into ball games. There hasn’t been a single game that Archer has started where he hasn’t thrown over 100 pitches. Three, he strikes people out. Archer has the third most strikeouts in the league at 88, just one strikeout behind Max Scherzer.

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Prediction: Chris Archer is tough to beat but I think this one depends on who starts for us and how quickly we can force Archer to throw 100 pitches. If we can knock him out before he makes it into the seventh inning and Bannister goes with any of the three pitchers above, the Rangers win. If not, this one swings Tampa Bay’s way.

Common Opponents

Rangers: Boston (0-3); Angels (3-3); Cleveland (0-3); Toronto (1-2); Detroit (2-1); Houston (1-3); Royals (4-0); Twins (1-2)

Rays: Boston (3-4); Angels (2-2); Cleveland (2-1); Toronto (5-5); Detroit (3-0); Houston (1-2); Royals (1-3); Twins (2-1)