Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Don't Sleep on the Texas Rangers

It's been easy to focus a lot of energy on the American League East this season. The Red Sox are playing at a ridiculous clip since snapping out of their early-April funk, the Yankees are the Yankees, and the Rays have been a nice feel-good story about a small-market team... But don't forget who represented the American League in the World Series last year. That would be the Texas Rangers. And even without Cliff Lee, who left via free agency, this is still a very good ball club. And unlike some of the good Ranger teams of the best, these Rangers don't just hit, they can also pitch. All 5 Ranger starters have double digit quality starts (6 innings or more, 3 earned runs or less) and at least 8 wins.

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

Matt Harrison - 8-7, 14/18 QS, 2.91 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Alexi Ogando - 9-3, 12/17 QS, 2.92 ERA, 1.01 WHIP
C.J. Wilson - 10-3, 13/20 QS, 3.11 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Colby Lewis - 9-7, 12/19 QS, 4.07 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Derek Holland - 8-4, 10/19 QS, 4.32 ERA, 1.41 WHIP

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

The bullpen has been a bit rocky at times, but they still have a dominant closer in Neftali Feliz, who despite struggling a bit with his control this season has a 2.97 ERA and has converted 20 of 24 saves, and veterans Arthur Rhodes, Darren Oliver and Mark Lowe. Oh and by the way, they still hit a ton. 6 starters have double digit home runs (Nelson Cruz 21, Adrian Beltre 19, Ian Kinsler 15, Mike Napoli 13, Mitch Moreland 12, Josh Hamilton 12) and that list doesn't include Michael Young (27 doubles) or speedy shortstop Elvis Andrus (27 steals). Their offense has scored more runs than every team not named the Red Sox or Yankees. And now, they're starting to get hot. The Rangers have quietly reeled off 11 consecutive wins including a 4 game sweep at Seattle where they outscored the M's 17-2, a 4 game sweep against the A's where they outscored Oakland 23-11 (and had 2 more shutouts) and a 3 game sweep against the O's where they scored 30 runs.

Photo Credit: everyjoe.com

Now they take on division rival Anaheim in a 3 game series where they'll catch both Dan Haren and Jered Weaver. The season series is currently tied at 3 games apiece and with the Rangers currently holding a 4 game lead in the division, this series has the potential to blow the race wide open or tighten it right up. Game 1 is tonight with Ogando taking on the Angels 21 year old rookie Tyler Chatwood. First pitch is at 10:05 Eastern.

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