Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Rangers vs. A Ranger


It really says a lot when the defending World Series champions are looking like underdogs in a matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies. Forgetting that the Phils are good now, forgetting that the Rangers have a lot of injuries...it's a very wild contrast to what went on last season.

The Rangers did have some moments of mediocrity throughout the 2023 season, but when they had momentum, they were unstoppable. There was that April-May run where they were scoring 10 runs every game, that was awesome. And they hit some serious momentum in October and rode that all the way to the end. But yeah, there were months where they really couldn't get much done, or jogged in place while the Astros or Mariners caught up. And that is where we find the Rangers now, a second-place team thanks to the unstoppable Mariners rotation, only 3 games ahead of the Astros, who've caught up because...I mean, of course they have, and are currently at .500 exactly. What's more, they're without Josh Jung, Cody Bradford, Nate Eovaldi, Wyatt Langford, Dane Dunning, Brock Burke, and, yes, Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom

Also, anyone else like me and completely forgot the Rangers signed Tyler Mahle this offseason? Yeah, well he's hurt too but...y'know. He HAS been for a bit. 

The Rangers can make an entire rotation out of people that are injured right now, which is never a great sign. Usually somebody like the Yankees has that kind of luck, but right now it's the Rangers. And the Astros ironically, so it's nice that they're at least still better than the Astros right now, but the Rangers really need to hold on and prevent themselves from losing any more ground. 

Which is why it's kind of a bad sign that the narrative behind tonight's game in Philly is 'are the Rangers gonna get their asses handed to them by a guy named Ranger?'

In fairness, Ranger Suarez is one of the best pitchers in the NL right now, he's commanding the narrative anytime he pitches, any team he'd face wouldn't be the favorite. But a guy named Ranger is looking to strike out a bunch of Rangers tonight, and this incarnation of the team, without Jung, Langford or possibly Adolis Garcia, might let him. At the very least the Rangers have Jon Gray, one of the only pitchers who's managed to stay healthy AND keep pitching well, on the mound, so it should be tight, but...this is a depleted team facing a team that still has a lot of its best assets.

Still, Josh Smith at 3rd is proof that the Rangers are at least making do with what they've got. A return from New York in the Gallo trade, Smith came up months before Josh Jung, and was too okay to really keep the position. But thanks to Jung's injury, Smith has been the primary third baseman this year and he's been pretty great, hitting .284 with 18 RBIs and a team-leading 12 doubles. He's not the overwhelming star right now [that would be Marcus Semien] but he's a solid role player who can get a lot done, and in this interim the team needs guys like that.

It remains to be seen how mighty the defending champion Rangers will look after playing one of the best teams in baseball, but like last September I'll just hope the Astros go through hell as well.

Coming Tomorrow- 50 years after Tommy John gave a name to a surgery, someone who is having one of the best seasons of his career...while still technically recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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