Texas Rangers Host Astros in First Division Series of 2019
By Kenneth Nash
The Texas Rangers are opening up AL West play by hosting the reigning division champs, the Houston Astros, in a 3-game series.
The Texas Rangers (2-1) are fresh off a series win against the Chicago Cubs to open up the 2019 season and final year at Globe Life Park. They’ll follow up back-to-back wins by playing host to the last-place Houston Astros (1-3) for 3 games starting Monday. How fun was that to say, by the way, the last place Houston Astros. Might as well laugh about it while we can.
Monday: LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. RHP Brad Peacock (0-0, -.– ERA)
Tuesday: RHP Shelby Miller (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
Wednesday: LHP Mike Minor (0-1, 11.57 ERA)) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (0-1, 1.50 ERA)
The Rangers will face the two top arms in the Houston Astros rotation in this series putting the bats who have shown out so far this season to the test. Additionally, Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller will be making their Texas Rangers regular season debuts on the mound after both were added to the Texas rotation this past offseason.
The 36-year old Verlander went 7 innings for the Astros in his first start of the season allowing just 1 run on only 3 hits. He was his regular swing-and-miss generating self striking out 9 on his way to picking up his and Houston’s first win of the season.
Gerrit Cole, who is coming off of an excellent 2018 All-Star campaign, was solid in his first start of the season for the Astros. Cole went 6 innings allowing 4 runs only 1 of which was earned. He struck out 10 hitters on his debut but took the loss in the game against the Rays.
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What To Watch For
Score Early and Often: The Texas Rangers offense was excellent against the Chicago Cubs helping them to their first above .500 record since late 2017. Texas generated 8 runs and 11 runs in games 2 and 3 respectively and swung the bat especially well late in the game. Facing an exception rotation like the Astros who also feature a solid bullpen, the Rangers will have their work cut out for them. Texas must find a way to generate runs early in the game and try to chase starters early in the evenings.
The Rotation has to be Better The Astros feature on paper one of the best offenses in the league. That doesn’t bode well for a Rangers pitching staff that has a team ERA of 9.33 through the first series of the year. The Cubs also hit a shocking .342 against this Texas pitching staff with the Rangers allowing most than 2 walks/hits per inning. The offense can only save you so many times and this staff has to improve quickly if the club wants any shot at proving doubters wrong in 2019.
- Elvis Andrus led the way for the Rangers at the plate against going 6-13.
- Asdrubal Cabrera was 5-11 against Chicago with a pair of homeruns and leads the club with 5 RBI
- Delino DeShields is just 1-10 to start the year with the lone hit being a grand slam in Sunday’s game
- Jose Leclerc has thrown 2.1 shutout innings to start the season and has a win and a save to his credit
- Michael Brantly is 5-13 to start the season for Houston with a double and homerun
- The Astros have a team ERA of just 2.18 and 46 strikeouts good for 4th in the MLB
Luke Farrell (TEX) – jaw surgery; 60-day IL (return TBD)
Scott Heineman (TEX) – left shoulder surgery; 60-day IL (return TBD)
Yohander Mendez (TEX) – left elbow sprain; 10-day IL (out at least until after All-Star break)
Lance McCullers (HOU) – Tommy John surgery; 10-day IL (out for season)
Joe Smith (HOU) – left achilles surgery; 10-day IL (possibly June)
Final Round Up and Broadcast Schedule
This is a key series for the Texas Rangers in the early part of the season. In a year that Texas hopes to prove doubters wrong in terms of being competitive, this is a quick test against a good Houston team who is the reigning AL West champs. A series win would go a long way to building some fan faith for the organization and could also be some motivation for the players who know expectations are low.
Monday – 7:05 CT; FSSW (TV), 105.3 FM (radio), KLFC 1270 AM (radio)
Tuesday – 7:05 CT; FSSW (TV), 105.3 FM (radio), KLFC 1270 AM (radio)
Wednesday – 7:05 CT; FSSW+ (TV), 105.3 FM (radio), KLFC 1270 AM (radio)
As always, be sure to follow Nolan Writin’ on Twitter @NolanWritinFS for in-game commentary and updates.