Rangers Split Series with Oakland: 3 Takeaways
By Kenneth Nash
The Texas Rangers were able to split a four-game away series against the Oakland Athletics, winning the second and fourth games.
After falling in three out of four against the Astros, Texas was able to win two of four against divisional opponent Oakland. The Rangers showed bright spots but also struggled in crucial parts of the games. Here are our three takeaways.
The Outfield is Not Good
With the injury to Delino DeShields in the first series of the season for the Rangers, a committee of Drew Robinson and rookie Carlos Tocci were thrust into a center field platoon. Robinson and Tocci, along with Ryan Rua in left field, struggled on both sides of the game against the Astros against Oakland. These three went a combined 5-23 at the plate in the four games series. This lack of offensive production stalled the bottom of the order a number of times with Rua and Tocci struggling more than Drew Robinson.
Call to the Pen
Defensively, they had one of the three outfield assists for Texas with two coming from Nomar Mazara. Despite not blowing up the error column, a consistent lack of defensive prowess showed itself in a consistent lack of tough plays made. If Texas looks to compete at all this season, they’ll have to find a consistent outfield trio until DeShields returns.
Can This Team Score Runs?
Perhaps consistently should be added to the end of that question. But for a team that finished 2017 in the top 10 in runs scored, Texas has struggled early to find consistent offensive production. The Rangers have been held to 3 runs or less, in 5 of their first 8 games this year. All these games have something in common. A loss. For a team with a less than stellar pitching staff, run production is crucial to any level of success. Last season, when the Rangers went 78-84, Texas averaged 4.93 runs per game according to Baseball Reference. Texas pitchers allowed 5.04 runs per game last season. With a statistical year similar to last year expected, averaging 3 runs a game isn’t going to cut it.
Texas Might Have Found Their Closer
Going into the season, the roles in the back end of the bullpen had yet to be fully determined. Alex Claudio, Jake Diekman, Matt Bush and Keone Kela had experience in the late innings of games. Texas settled on giving Keone Kela the opportunity to start off in the closer role and claim it for the duration.
Kela this season has been off to a fairly hot start and may be locking down this role for the long term. The 24-year old has appeared in 3 games in this young season with 2 of those being save opportunities. Kela converted both saves and has yet to allow a run this season. With just 1 hit and 2 walks in 3 innings Kela has shown his ability to not extend innings late in the game. In addition, the young righty has struck out 3 showcasing his overpowering stuff. There’s still a lot of time before Kela is just handed the title of closer, but Texas looks to have a young pitcher who shows promise in the role.
Next: Doug Fister: Steal of the Offseason?
Texas will host the Blue Jays in a 3-game home series beginning tonight. Matt Moore is expected to get the start. First pitch is at 7:05 CT.