The Texas Rangers wrapped up a six-game road trip late last night in Arizona. Going 2-4, what three things did we learn about the team?
After a 5-2 start to the season, the Texas Rangers fell back to Earth during their six-game road trip. They went 2-4, losing a 4-game series to the Los Angeles Angels and splitting a two-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Maybe the Rangers don’t like playing on the road, or maybe they caught the Cubs and Astros at the right time. Either way, they’re now 6-6 on the year, 5.5 games behind the division leading Seattle Mariners.
What did we learn over Texas’ last six games?
Pitching isn’t all bad
The first trip through the starting rotation was frightening to say the least. Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Edinson Volquez struggled against the Cubs. Considering the circumstances (first outings off major injuries), Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller put forth average, but very brief starts against the Astros.
Smyly and Miller took a turn for the worse the next go-around; however, Minor and Lynn began on a new, much more satisfying path.
Minor pitched seven shutout innings against a potent Houston offense on April 3rd. He followed that up with seven innings and two runs allowed against the D’Backs on Tuesday. His ERA went from 11.57 after Opening Day to 3.86 three starts in.
Lynn went seven strong against the Angels last Friday, allowing two runs and walking just one batter. He then tossed six innings and gave up one run against Arizona last night.
Each pitcher settling down after a rough beginning to the season should settle Rangers fans at least a little. The club desperately needs good production from the front end of its rotation.
The offense is very unreliable
Texas averaged 5.6 runs per game over their six-game home stand to open the year. They averaged 4 runs per game over their subsequent six-game road trip. The lineup became stagnant very quickly, as Rougned Odor, Asdrubal Cabrera and Nomar Mazara began to slump.
Odor had a nice opening series against the Cubs, though he’s slumped to a horrendous .167/.255/.214 slash line.
Cabrera was with Elvis Andrus as the hottest Rangers to start the year. He hit three home runs, drove in seven and posted a .682 SLG% during the home stand. On the road, he had zero extra base hits, drove in zero and slugged .118.
Mazara hit .300 with a 1.117 OPS in the six home games. He hit .133 with a .321 OPS in the six road games.
Those three aren’t the only players that suffered significant downturns, either. Joey Gallo had a terrible series in Arizona and Jeff Mathis fell back to his usual offensive self. The Rangers need at least a few consistent hitters, and it would greatly help if someone in the middle could be consistent aside from Andrus. I’ll call out Mazara as that someone.
Adrian Sampson could be a savior to the rotation
The Texas Rangers may have found legitimate starting pitching help. Adrian Sampson has not yet made a start this year, but he’s been stellar in long relief. He’s thrown a total of 9.2 innings over two outing thus far. He owns a 1.86 ERA and has allowed one home run.
Sampson will get the nod on Saturday against Marco Estrada and the Oakland Athletics. After being slighted by Opening Day roster cuts, it took him just over two weeks to get another shot as a Rangers’ starting pitcher. Hopefully he can stick around for a while, not only as an injury replacement, but as a quality arm.