Texas Rangers: On Deck-Washington Nationals
By Seth Jackson
The Texas Rangers head up to the nation’s capital to face off against the red-hot Washington Nationals. After a disappointing ending to the Mets series, the Rangers could really use some wins against a good team to get them back on track. They’ll be hard pressed to do so though the way the Nats have been playing lately.
As a Rangers fan, Wednesday’s loss was a tough one to swallow. It was a game they should have won but somehow managed to give up. Yu Darvish pitched eight innings and only gave up two hits. The Rangers on the other hand, got eight knocks through eight innings. Yet if you looked at the scoreboard, the game was somehow tied at 3-3 heading into the ninth.
And once again, their bullpen blew another game, this time at the hands of Matt Bush. It’s tough not just for us to watch, but for the Rangers to play through, late inning meltdowns. Very little is more crushing than blowing a lead or tying a game up late just to fall short when the bullpen can’t keep it a tie ball game.
Now Bush has been pretty good this whole season so hopefully the past two games were just a hiccup for him and he goes back to dominating. And with Leclerc back in the rotation and Bibens-Dirkx finding success, the bullpen ought to shore up soon. The Rangers hope it’s sooner than later as they’ve got a rough road trip ahead of them in the form of the Nationals and Astros.
The Texas Rangers have not been good on the road this season. In fact, they’ve come out of every single road trip 3-6. The Nats on the other hand have been pretty good at home. They’re 17-9 when playing at Nationals Park.
Here’s how the series projects:
Friday, June 9 (Roark vs. Cashner)
Andrew Cashner has pitched pretty well most of the season (3.39 ERA) but he got roughed up pretty good in his last outing. He allowed five runs on eleven hits through six innings in a 6-5 loss. Ironically, he received the most run support (4 runs) he’s had all year in this his worst outing.
The Nationals lineup won’t be any more forgiving than the Astros. They have the second best team AVG and OPS, their tied for first in SLG, and their third in OBP. No team has more RBIs and only the Astros have scored more runs and collected more hits. So it’ll be a tough matchup for Cashner who has struggled against the Nationals in the past.
Cashner has started nine games against Washington in his career. He’s 1-4 with a 5.20 ERA in those starts. In 36.2 innings, he’s allowed 47 hits and walked another 15 batters. Needless to say, things haven’t gone well when Cashner has faced the Nationals.
Tanner Roark on the other hand, is having a very different season than Cashner. He’s 6-2 on the year but his offense has helped him out a good deal as his ERA of 3.95 is the second highest of his career. He’s allowed four or more earned runs in four of his starts but the Nationals still won two of those games.
Roark has faced the Texas Rangers (whom he was drafted by) once in his career and he recorded a loss. However, he only allowed one run on a solo shot in seven innings of work.
Prediction: The Nationals lineup proves to be too much for Cashner and the Rangers can’t score enough runs off Roark to stay in the game.
Saturday, June 10 (Gonzalez vs. Perez)
Martin Perez has struggled all season but Sunday’s start against the Astros was his worst yet. He only made it through 3.2 innings as the ‘Stros homered three times and scored six runs on him. Perez hasn’t recorded a win since May 18 and that was against the lowly Phillies. With Cole Hamels and A.J. Griffin out, the Rangers have needed Perez to step up to the plate and he hasn’t yet.
Martin Perez has never faced the Nationals but he’s not known for having success on the road. Or against teams over .500 for that matter. The only thing he really has going for him is that he tends to have success in the month of June. In his career, Perez is 7-1 in June with the Astros loss being the first game he’s ever lost in June. Hopefully, he turns things around Saturday but I’m not holding my breath.
Gio Gonzalez meanwhile, has dominated everyone he’s faced. He’s 5-1 on the season with a 3.03 ERA. And at home he’s even better. He has not lost a game when pitching in Nationals Park and has a mere 1.69 ERA.
Gonzalez has a little bit of a history with the Texas Rangers from back when he played for Oakland. It’s not in the Rangers favor. In his career, he’s gone 4-2 against them with a 2.55 ERA.
Prediction: It’s closer than the previous night but the Nationals come out on top as Perez can’t keep the Nationals off the board for long.
Sunday, June 11 (Scherzer vs. ?)
The Rangers have not yet announced their started for Sunday’s matchup. It could be Dillon Gee but after his poor start Tuesday we’ll see. I’d love to see Austin Bibens-Dirkx get the nod again as he got his first win in relief of Gee this past Tuesday. Plus he did well in his previous outing as a starter.
Tyson Ross is slated to get another rehab start at Round Rock on Friday so it’s unlikely we’ll see him Sunday.
Regardless of who ends up taking the mound, they’ll have a tough task ahead of them as Max Scherzer is pitching for the Nationals. Mad Max has continued to be one of the top pitchers in the league this year. He’s 7-3 with a 2.35 ERA right now, the fourth lowest in the majors. His 114 strikeouts and 12.17 K/9 are second only to Chris Sale. Opposing batters are hitting a paltry .180 against him on the year. Only Ervin Santana can say he’s doing better than that.
Scherzer hasn’t faced the Texas Rangers much over the years but in the eight starts he has against them, he’s gone 4-1 while posting a 3.67 ERA. The Rangers have hit .277 against him in those games which considering his typical opponent’s AVG, is pretty good.
Prediction: Ma Scherzer is just too strong of a pitcher and gets at least ten strikeouts on the way to a Nationals victory. The Rangers have some success against the bullpen and look to mount a comeback but they can’t finish it.
Rangers: Phillies (3-0); Seattle (1-5); Padres (3-1); Mets (1-1); Oakland (6-3)
Astros: Phillies (7-5); Seattle (2-1); Padres (2-1); Mets (4-2); Oakland (2-1)