Monday newsletter time: Rangers know how high bar is set after Rays series
(AP photo/Mike Carlson)
Tampa Bay has been the best team in baseball this season. Of late, though, the Rangers have been playing well and even posted the majors’ best record in May.
But they saw first-hand over the weekend what the best looks like. It looks good, especially in St. Petersburg.
The Rays won the three-game series, winning Friday and Sunday. They feast on left-handed pitching and can put a game out of reach with the long ball, especially with runners on base.
They are also an excellent home team, at 31-7, and seem to get contributions offensively from all 13 position players. Their pitchers could probably hit.
The good news is that the Rangers still have a five-game lead in the American League West and will be home the next seven games, beginning tonight against the Angels for four and then a weekend series against the Blue Jays.
Those teams will test the Rangers, too.
The Rangers, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016, shouldn’t be looking any further ahead than the Angels series the next four nights at Globe Life Field.
But fans and media can look ahead at a potential Rangers-Rays playoff series.
At the very least, the Rangers came away from Tropicana Field knowing their pitchers can’t make mistakes over the plate and can’t give the Rays free runners. The Rangers also know that right-handed starters are the best bet against a Tampa Bay team that leads the AL in home runs and leads the majors in OPS.
The caveat, and it’s a big one, is that it’s June. Plenty can happen over the course of a baseball season. The Yankees were the runaway best team last season into June, only to limp into the postseason and take an early exit.
Injuries and the trade deadline could make these teams look much different, and those two elements could also make the teams chasing them better.
The Rangers, though, saw where the bar is and still have a little work to do to clear it.
The Rays plated all of their runs Sunday in a 7-3 victory against lefty Martin Perez, who wasn’t hit all that hard until Wander Franco swatted a three-run homer that provided the game’s final runs.
Sinkerballers run into days like the one Perez had. He also issued three walks, and they all turned into runs.
But the homer Franco hit was the 11th allowed by Perez in 13 starts. He allowed 11 last season in 32 starts. A solo home run is fine, but homers with runners on base will get a starter beat.
With Jacob deGrom out for the year and the Rangers short on starting pitching depth, Perez needs to be more consistent. His ERA jumped more than 0.70 runs Sunday to 4.67.
The road hasn’t been particularly kind to him, and he’s made an inordinate amount of road starts (nine).
He won’t make any excuses, thought he’s pitched with a blister a few times this season. He just needs to be better at keeping the ball in the ballpark.
That was quick
Spencer Howard’s call-up lasted all of one appearance, and it wasn’t a good appearance. He allowed four runs Friday and recorded one out, and on Saturday the Rangers sent him and his 108.00 ERA back to Triple A Round Rock.
The Rangers summoned Yerry Rodriguez from Round Rock, but don’t be surprised if he’s back in Triple A soon. Joe Barlow has pitched twice for Round Rock on a rehab assignment after a bout with kidney stones and would appear to be ready for reinstatement from the 15-day injured list.
Howard didn’t do himself any favors with the fan base. He was acquired at the 2021 trade deadline in a deal that sent Kyle Gibson, Ian Kennedy and Hans Crouse to Philadelphia. The loss of Crouse was unpopular at a time when the team was rebuilding, but it hasn’t been costly.
Crouse was injured much of last season at Triple A Lehigh Valley and is back on the injured list this season. He has worked 15 games, all of them as a reliever, and has a 6.86 ERA.
The weekend in St. Petersburg could have gone better for the Rangers, but things continue to go very well overall. Good news can also be found in the minor leagues, though, admittedly, it’s a bit harder to find. Rangers Today seems to find it, and the best coverage of the organization can be had for $5.99 a month, $35 for six months or $60 for a year. For a sampling, here’s some of our latest content in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: Trade for a starter? Yes, please
Friday on the Farm: Trio staying health
Rangers farm report: Cole Winn returns after reset
A little Monday pick-me-up. Enjoy.
If you need a smile.. 😊
and a wink.. 😉 pic.twitter.com/Q8dn7UV4dk
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 10, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org