The Texas Rangers started the month of August with an eight-game winning streak. Things seemed to be rolling as new additions Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery made great first impressions with the team.
However, things soon turned sour when Texas failed to sweep the Los Angeles Angels. The team won handily in the first two games. However, things began to go downhill as bats went dry and pitching began to slump.
So what seems to be the problem? Could it be pitching? Manager Bruce Bochy's decision making?
Pitching has been half the problem. In Texas' loss against the Angels, the team fell 2-0. In the game, pitcher Jon Gray pitched for seven innings as he allowed six hits, one error, and threw for four strikeouts. He allowed one run that came early in the first inning. The other run came in the ninth inning when Josh Sborz allowed a late homer. In a two-run game, the bats failed to contribute.
Fast forward to the Milwaukee series, and pitching seemed to be the concern. Texas lost game 1 after allowing three runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
In games two and three, the Rangers combined for three runs. The bats failed to come through, as several runners were stranded on base.
Against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas had a chance to break their losing streak. Up 3-1 in the 11th inning, the team was in prime position to earn a much-needed victory. However, manager Bochy walked Ketel Marte and put the tying run on first base.
Yet, not all hope is lost. There is still time to turn things around.
Here are three ways Texas can get back to their winning ways.
1. Consistency in Starting Rotation
Pitching has been a concern for the Rangers this season. At the beginning of the season, fans began to ponder about who would be in the team's starting rotation. Over time, pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez began to form a one-two punch.
Things changed when Eovaldi went down with a forearm strain. As for Perez, he began to see a drastic decline in performance. Wear and tear seemed to be the concern.
With Scherzer and Montgomery in the mix, things were supposed to get better. However, that hasn't always been the case. On Sunday, "Mad Max" threw for three innings and allowed three earned runs. The day before, Dane Dunning pitched for five innings. He also allowed three earned runs.
However, help might be on the way. Sports Illustrated reported that Eovaldi is getting set to make his return. On Monday night Eovaldi threw for 36 pitches in two simulated innings.
If things progress well, there is a possibility he will skip rehab and head straight into the team's starting rotation.
Assuming he's back at full strength, the team will have some questions to answer. Having a healthy Eovaldi paired with Scherzer might be the missing recipe.
2. Sorting Out the back end of the bullpen
Another area of concern is the latter half of the bullpen. Before the trade deadline, Texas traded for all-star Aroldis Chapman. He and Will Smith were expected to close out games for the Rangers.
Until recently, both players had lived up to their expectations. On Monday, Chapman and Smith blew Texas' chances of winning in extra innings. The two pitchers combined to allow four earned runs and both blew save opportunities.
Against the Brewers Sunday, Smith struggled to find any rhythm. In half an inning, he conceded the game with three earned runs. The issue is his inability to gain command of the strike zone.
If Texas can get Smith back on track if they have any hope of winning again.
Another player that must get back on track is Sbotz. The relief pitcher has struggled to duplicate his numbers at the beginning of August.
Over the past two games, he allowed four earned runs. Overall, he has thrown 34 pitches and pitched just two strikeouts.
Getting the back of the bullpen in sync is crucial. If other pitchers like Perez and Jose Leclerc can find their grove, then maybe it is possible Texas can regain its form.
Relief pitching is where one run games come in handy.
3. Finding Offensive Power Near the Bottom
The back of Texas' starting lineup has declined. Against the Diamondbacks Wednesday, Travis Jankowski, Jonah Heim, and Leody Taveras combined for five strikeouts and one hit in 13 at-bat appearances. On Tuesday, all three players tallied one hit in eight appearances.
Every hitter not named Corey Seager is struggling to find their groove. One player in particular is Heim. The Texas catcher returned from a wrist injury and has yet to get back into the swing of things.
Over the past five games, Heim has 13 at-bats that consist of one hit and five strikeouts. On Tuesday, he struck out three times. Since returning from injury, he has just two hits on 20 appearances.
However, he isn't the only one struggling to hit past the strike zone. Taveras too struggled during the team's losing streak. In five games, he has two recorded hits and eight strikeouts.
The bottom of the lineup has struggled to get numbers on the board. Players like Ezequiel Duran are struggling to regain their form. He has recorded double-digit strikeouts in two of his past four games.
Pitching and offensive firepower are crucial if Texas hopes to start winning. ESPN reports that Texas is 9-17 in one-run games this season. This could be key if the team hopes to make a late postseason run.