Monday newsletter time: Getting young players at-bats is a Rangers priority, but veterans will play, too
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — Juggling a bullpen is the hardest thing a manager must do, Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said.
Next up, perhaps, is finding at-bats for veteran players at a time when the Rangers really don’t need them to be in the lineup
That will be a predicament the rest of the season.
Outfielder Kole Calhoun and designated hitter Brad Miller returned to the lineup Sunday afternoon, left-handed hitters against Detroit right-hander Drew Hutchinson, at the expense of Bubba Thompson and Mark Mathias.
Calhoun hit a two-run homer as the Rangers stormed back from a 9-0 deficit before losing 9-8. He flew out to deep center field to end the game with Thompson, who had stolen second as a pinch-runner, in scoring position.
Calhoun, Miller and Charlie Culberson are not what the Rangers consider to be “priority players,” but they are going to play occasionally.
“I want Miller to get at-bats. Kole needs at-bats. Everyone needs at-bats,” Beasley said. “And so we have to be creative. You can only play nine guys a night. They understand that, that I’m going to play the guys that I know I have to play and try to get some as many at-bats as possible.”
Determining what Mathias can do isn’t as much of a priority as it is for Thompson, who has a unique skill set that could play nicely in left field next season. He needs to face right-handed pitchers as much as he does lefties.
A manager also needs to set up young players for success. If Thompson’s not going to play, it will be when a right-hander is starting for the other team. That’s not the hardest thing in the world to understand.
Miller is under contract for 2023. Calhoun and Culberson are not. If any of that trio is going to play, it probably should be Miller.
But at some point Beasley will have to rip off the Band-Aid and fully turn the team over to young players. Thompson, Leody Taveras, Ezequiel Duran and Josh Jung need big-league at-bats. So does catcher Sam Huff, with Jonah Heim appearing to tire and with Meibrys Viloria hitting under .200.
The Rangers are down a starting pitcher with left-hander Cole Ragans on the injured list with a calf strain. His innings will be monitored once he is reinstated.
No starting-pitching prospect in the minors has earned a promotion to the majors.
That leaves Dallas Keuchel, who is in the rotation but surrendered seven runs on 11 hits Saturday in 5 1/3 innings in his Rangers debut. If the Rangers don’t make a change, he would pitch again Friday at Boston.
The Rangers have a few options, though. Rosters will expand by two Thursday, so the Rangers could find a multi-innings reliever and go with a bullpen game. They could bite the bullet and promote prospect Cole Winn even though he has had only a so-so season at Triple A Round Rock.
To do so, they would need a spot on the 40-man roster. That could be created by parting ways with Keuchel. Jung is going to need a roster spot at some point, too.
The guess here is Keuchel starts a quasi-bullpen game. Give him the week to settle into his routine, let pitching coaches Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara get their hands on him, and see where it goes.
Kohei Arihara only marginally better Sunday. At least he can break 90 mph.
These are some lean times for the Rangers rotation.
It was a relatively quiet weekend at the Wilson house, though that probably means a storm is a comin’. TCU football season is coming this week, as the Horned Frogs open the 2022 season Friday at Colorado. I will be there with Frogs Today, which is revolutionizing TCU coverage, rather than at Fenway Park with the Rangers. The good news is my phone works and Rangers people actually answer it … occasionally. No Rangers Today subscriber ($5.99 a month, $60 a year) will miss a thing. There will be a new podcast episode, too, over at the YouTube channel (subscribe for free). If anyone needs to play catch-up, here’s our latest in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: Bubba stealing left field?
Rangers Today Baseball Podcast: The great Mike Rhyner
Friday on the Farm: Luisangel Acuna underrated?
T.R.’s Memoirs: The 50 greatest Rangers plays
Rangers farm report: Kumar Rocker in Fall League?
This is a good way to start a Monday. Enjoy. See you Tuesday.
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— Heckin Good Dogs (@HeckinGoodDogs) August 26, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org