After avoiding a sweep against the A’s, the Texas Rangers will head north of the border to take on the Toronto Blue Jays.
Texas desperately needs to find some momentum. After dropping two of three at home against Oakland, the struggling Rangers face another test in the solid Toronto Blue Jays team. The Rangers currently sit at 9-17 and are 8 games out of first in the AL West. The Blue Jays are 14-10 and just 5 games behind the AL East leading Red Sox.
Here’s what to look for in this series.
Friday: 6:07 CT (Mike Minor v. Marcus Stroman)
Saturday: 3:07 CT (Bartolo Colon v. Jaime Garcia)
Sunday: 12:07 CT (Martin Perez v. J.A. Happ)
Who Steps Up At The Plate?
The Texas Rangers took a big blow when they lost Adrian Beltre to a hamstring injury. Although Beltre only hit the 10-day DL, he had been the Rangers best offensive weapon to this point in the season. While Beltre is out, Texas needs someone to step up at the plate. Preferably a couple of someones. Nomar Mazara has been solid this season and leads players on the active roster in batting average. With Mazara’s production Texas needs Joey Gallo to step up his average at the plate as well as Shin-Soo Choo both of whom are hitting under .250. Although Choo and Gallo have both shown the power this season, increased consistency is a must with Beltre out for another week or so.
Can Mike Minor Extend His Start?
Mike Minor has been solid starting pitcher for the Rangers early on this season. The free agent acquisition has held opponents to a .213 batting average and struck out 20 through 21 innings. The key for Minor moving forward is extending his starts. Through his first four starts, Minor has yet to make it past 6 innings. Some of this is due to planned the Rangers carefully stretching Minor out from his bullpen role last season in Kansas City to his new starter role. Still, a concern for this starting rotation as a whole is it’s struggles to go deep into games and the pressure they’ve put on the bullpen. With Minor getting the start in game one against Toronto, I’ll be curious to see if he can get into the 7th inning for Texas and keep the Rangers from using multiple relief pitchers.
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Keep Watching Kiner-Falefa
I’ve made it pretty obvious that I’m high on Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The young infielder has done a tremendous job filling a hole for the team in the absence of Rougned Odor and now he’s moved to third base in place of Adrian Beltre. Kiner-Falefa is hitting .277 through 14 games and was errorless in his time at second base. I’d like to see his strike out rate drop as he’s averaging about one per game currently, but Kiner-Falefa is a testament to the benefits of being patient and developing young players. If he’s a glimpse into the Rangers prospects and the future, the future for this team is bright. Keep an eye on Kiner-Falefa in this series and see how his at-bats go. If he can consistently keep hitting, the Rangers will find it hard to send him back to the minors when players on the DL return.