Texas Rangers: 4 impressions from the series against the Tampa Bay Rays

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Carlson/GettyImages
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The Texas Rangers lost two of three this past weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays. This ended their series win streak at six, but they still maintain a five-game division lead over the Houston Astros. The scores of the games this weekend did not reflect a close series, but these two teams are not that far apart. It was a telling series in that it did show that Texas can compete with the best teams in the league, but they just have some minor issues that need to be resolved between now and October. Here are my four impressions that I observed from this series.

Texas Rangers Vs Tampa Bay Rays Impression #1

Spencer Howard is not a major league pitcher. He was brought up last week and replaced Jonathan Hernandez on the roster. I know the argument is probably that he only had two rehab appearances before calling him up and the Rangers rushed him to the majors. Sure, that could be the case. I am not sure if he had received 10 rehab appearances if the result would be different.

Howard was brought into Friday night's game with the Rays leading 4-1 in the sixth inning. He hit Randy Arozarena, gave up a home run to Isaac Paredes, walked Jose Siri, gave up a single to Christian Bethancourt, a single to Manuel Margot, a single to Taylor Walls, and then finally got his first out on a 102.6mph line out to left fielder Ezequiel Duran. He pitched 1/3 of an inning, gave up four runs, four hits, had one walk, and one hit batter. He was then sent back to Round Rock the next day.

This continued a disturbing trend for Howard with his lack of control and his tendency to give up home runs. It was an issue in Philadelphia and a contributing factor that led him to be included in the Kyle Gibson trade back in 2021, and it is why he continues to be unusable for the Rangers. His career numbers show a pitcher that is not getting it done at this level. His career ERA over four seasons is 7.39, he has walked 53 batters and given up 26 home runs in 112 career innings. His career Fielding Independent Pitching(FIP) is 5.84. Howard is giving up 11 hits per nine innings, 2.1 home-runs per nine innings, and 4.3 walks per nine innings over his career.

I had a discussion with a twitter follower over the weekend who was trying to compare the Josh Sborz situation with Spencer Howard. Sborz has had issues throughout his career and is now pitching better than anyone in the pen. The Rangers should be rewarded for sticking it out with Sborz. The difference between Sborz and Howard is there were plenty of moments in his previous four seasons where Sborz did pitch very well. The issue with Sborz was never about his ability to pitch at this level it was always about finding that consistency. After four seasons with two different organizations and failures in both the rotation and the bullpen, I am not sure if Howard has the ability to pitch well at this level. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong.