3 takeaways from Astros sweep of the Rangers

Jun 4, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers players watch the game from the dugout in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers players watch the game from the dugout in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Rangers drop all three games against their rivals, the Houston Astros. As the deficit in the American League West begins to grow, playoff hopes continue to diminish.

It may be time to wake up and smell the roses. The Texas Rangers just aren’t a very good team right now.

The red-hot Houston Astros came to town over the weekend and swept the Rangers, extending their division lead to 15 games, the largest of the season.

The Rangers have lost four consecutive series’ since their ten game winning streak came to an end. It may be too early to call the American League West a one-horse race, but Houston looks like Seabiscuit while the Rangers look like a three legged calf who’s still learning how to walk.

Still, the team is only four games back of the second wild card spot. However, they are far from being a legitimate contender.

They’re an MLB worst, 4-15 against teams with a winning record, including 1-6 against the Astros. With the trade deadline getting closer by the day, a rebuild is becoming more clear.

Three Takeaways

1. The Astros look unstoppable

For years now the Astro’s have been like the Ranger’s little brother. From 2013-2016 the Rangers were 53-23 against the Astros, their best record against any opponent over that stretch. Texas won the Silver Boot every year except one, the injury plagued 2014 season.

Now, it appears the tide has officially changed. We knew it would happen at some point. The Astros stockpiled talent over the course of their rebuild. The question wasn’t rather or not they would put it together, but when.

The answer appears to be now. The Astros are 41-16 and on a historic pace. They have the best record in baseball, the next closest team is five games behind. They have a better record than the Cubs did at this point a season ago, you know, the team who went on to win the World Series.

The Rangers aren’t better than the Astros this season and that’s okay, because no one is.

2. Where has Delino DeShields been?

After winning the starting job in left field, the return of Adrian Beltre has sent Delino DeShields back to coming off the bench.

With Beltre’s return Joey Gallo has seen more time at first base and the DH, moving Shin-Soo Choo to right field and Nomar Mazara to left. With Carlos Gomez injured, Jeff Bannister has opted with Jared Hoying in center field because of his superior defense.

But is the minuscule jump in defensive ability really enough to warrant more playing time for Hoying? The answer should be a resounding no.

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DeShields currently has the seventh highest WAR on the team despite only starting in 37 of the teams 56 games. Hoying has been… not great.

He’s hitting .196 in 16 games with a wRC+ of 36 while striking out 28 percent of the time. His UZR/150 in center field certainly isn’t great but it an improvement over DeSheilds’ -1.2 UZR/150. Hoying’s defense isn’t enough of an improvement to consistently start him over DeShields.

3. Is Andrew Cashner finally crashing back down to earth

Saturday’s start against the Astros marked the second time in his last three starts that Andrew Cashner has given up five runs. I’ve touched on Cashner’s high FIP in the past and how it showed his early success may have been unsustainable.

It appears that luck Cashner saw plenty of early in the season is beginning to run out. His ERA has skyrocketed from 2.45 to 3.39 over his past couple of starts, still much lower than his 4.85 FIP.

While his ERA has been on the rise his FIP has been on the decline, which is a positive. However, the biggest concern for Cashner continues to be his inability to strike out batters.

His 3.82 strikeouts per nine innings is nearly four strikeouts below his career average. He also continues to walk batters at a high rate. His 4.32 walks per nine is one walk over his career average.

In fact, Cashner’s -1.2 strikeout to walk ratio is the worst in baseball. He’s one of only two pitchers to be negative in the category.

Wether or not Cashner continues to trend towards his FIP remains to be seen, but all signs are pointed in that direction.

Looking ahead

The Rangers look to get back on track as they begin a two game series against the New York Mets on Tuesday. The Mets have had a disappointing start to the season, currently sitting at 24-31.

Game one – Jacob deGrom (4-2, 3.97 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Game two – Zack Wheeler (3-3, 3.72 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (5-4, 3.13 ERA)