Starting pitching and relief pitching made sure the Texas Rangers were never in the game against the Twins last night. Their weaknesses were exposed.
The Texas Rangers opened a 3-game set against the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins yesterday evening. It was ugly, to say the least. The Rangers found themselves down 6-0 after the second inning. Starting pitcher Adrian Sampson was throwing batting practice to Twins’ hitters, which is not recommended when facing a team that just set the MLB pre-All-Star break home run record (165). Sampson allowed 11 hits, 7 runs and 2 home runs in just 3.1 innings pitched.
Down 7-0 at the time of Sampson’s departure, Texas handed the ball to newcomer Jesse Biddle. Biddle gave up two runs and one long ball in 2.2 innings pitched, striking out three and walking one. Brett Martin was next to take the mound. The left-hander allowed four hits, three runs and one homer over one inning. And, to add fuel to the fire, lefty Locke St. John came on to pitch the 8th and allowed three runs on four hits. The Rangers lost the game 15-6.
Their most profound vulnerabilities were on display. Texas got a terrible start from a mid-rotation arm after an outstanding start from a top-rotation arm the night prior. They went to their young relievers to try to keep the game from embarrassment, but ended up getting embarrassed. It just so happened all three relievers were of the left-handed variety. The Twins owned every Ranger who toed the rubber.
Nolan Writin’s Kenneth Nash covered the Texas Rangers’ top trade deadline needs a few days ago. Included was starting rotation depth as well as relief depth. They’ve seen flashes of promise in both areas throughout the year; however, not often enough to feel good about remaining in playoff contention.
If the Rangers truly want to make a run at the postseason, they will have to commit to buying this trade season. That doesn’t mean they need to throw all their eggs in one basket and pursue Noah Syndergaard or Madison Bumgarner. But they at least need to pick up a few affordable pieces to strengthen their weaknesses.
The front office needs to strongly consider the current bunch, asking themselves if Adrian Sampson, Ariel Jurado and Jesse Chavez can hold up against the Astros, Athletics and Angels as they face increased pressure come August and September.
Also, can the Rangers trust any one of Biddle, Martin or St. John to come in and dispose of threatening left-handed hitters when it matters most?
The answer to both questions, in my opinion, is no. Playoff teams have very few holes; the Rangers have several rather steep holes. Though, there’s nothing a little deadline magic can’t help. Again, they don’t need to do anything crazy — nothing that jeopardizes what they’ve built in the minor leagues over the last couple of seasons. They must do something, however.
I proposed a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks two weeks ago. In the deal, Texas receives starting pitcher Merrill Kelly and left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin. In return, the Rangers send a mid-level shortstop prospect and a low-level outfield prospect.
The Diamondbacks are in a Wild Card hunt themselves, just 2.5 games out in the National League. Thus, they might not be in a position to trade away players. Still, you get the idea.
The Texas Rangers need better, more experienced arms if they want to be serious about a playoff push. If they are at all hesitant about pulling the trigger on the trade market, a pathetic 15-6 loss should tell them what they need to know. Also if they’re hesitant, partaking as sellers this trade season might not be a bad idea either.