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Thursday newsletter time: One miserable pitch leads to Rangers getting swept by Mariners

(AP photo/Ted S. Warren)

 

Well, the Rangers didn’t lose by a run Wednesday.

They still lost, 4-2, and it doesn’t feel any better than a one-run loss. The Rangers have 23 of those this season.

Seattle wunderkind Julio Rodriguez swatted a three-run homer on Jon Gray’s worst pitch of the day, erasing the Rangers 2-1 advantage and sending them to three-game sweep at T Mobile Park.

The Mariners have beaten the Rangers 100 straight times (actually eight). They’re the better team.

The Rangers’ free fall from .500 continues. They are now 43-54 and face Shohei Ohtani tonight in the opener of a four-game series at Anaheim.

Any consideration of making a trade to improve this team’s 2022 playoff chances is kaput. The Rangers could still add a player who will help this season and beyond, but the likelihood of making the postseason is below 1 percent.

So, yeah, there is a chance, just not one good enough to think about shipping out a load of prospects for a two-month rental.

The Rangers are a good enough team to compete each night. They aren’t good enough team to consistently overcome a damaging mistake, and, to be honest, that’s been the case all season.

On Wednesday, Gray pitched into the seventh and had two runners on with one out. Pitching coach Doug Mathis visited the mound to discuss what to do with Rodriguez, a shoo-in for American League Rookie of the Year.

The plan was not to throw a hanging slider, but that’s what happened.

“We were talking about the situation. I liked the plan. I just didn’t execute,” Gray said. “I had one pitch that didn’t act like any other all day. It’s really weird how that happened.”
Gray threw 99 pitches in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and was pumping his fastball as fast as 98 mph. The pitch to Rodriguez slipped out of Gray’s grip. He was hoping it would go to the backstop. It found the outfield seats.

On the silver-linings front, the Rangers lost three games by a combined four runs. They’re better than a year ago and not far off, but, again, they’re not good enough.

Changing the manager or upheaval in the front office won’t fix that, barring a player revolt.

What’s more likely to happen is that borderline players will be replaced the rest of the season, in the offseason and in 2023.

More work to do

The Rangers have locked up their first two selections of the 2022 MLB Draft, first signing Kumar Rocker on Tuesday and then following that up Wednesday with fourth-rounder Brock Porter.

According to a source, Rocker signed for $5.2 million and Porter, who fell out of the top 10 of the draft all the way to the fourth round, signed for $3.7 million.

Let’s do some math.

The heralded right-handers signed for a combined $8.9 million.

The Rangers’ draft bonus pool is $9,640,700. My figurin tells me there is $740,700 remaining.

Left-hander Kohl Drake, the 11th-rounder, signed for $175,000, and $50,000 counts against the Rangers’ pool. Five others — RHP Matt Brosky (eighth round), SS Griffin Cheney (ninth round), OF Josh Hatcher (10th round),  RHP Jackson Kelley (12th round) and LHP Justin Sanchez (18th round) — have signed for undisclosed amounts.

It’s likely Brosky, Cheney and Hatcher signed well below their slots, and the others didn’t sign large enough deals to count against the bonus pool.

Let’s say the Rangers have $625,000 remaining. The Rangers want to sign their fifth-, sixth- and seven rounders — outfielders Chandler Pollard and Tommy Specht, and right-hander Luis Ramirez. Their combined slot values are worth $977,900, and the value of any player who goes unsigned is subtracted from the overall pool.

The Rangers could choose to go over their bonus, though they would have to pay a penalty. Going over by 5 percent or less incurs a 75 percent tax on the overage. Overages at 6-10 percent would cost the Rangers a first-round draft pick and the 75 percent tax.

No team, according to mlb.com, has ever gone over 5 percent.

It’s going to be tricky.

The deadline to sign draft picks arrives at 4 p.m. Monday.

ICYMI …

It was refreshing to hear from a colleague that I’m not the only one running around like a madman. Life is busy, not to mention work. Between family, writing, sending out invoices for annual subscription renewals (if you think you’re due and haven’t seen emails, let me know), the Rangers Today Baseball Podcast and FrogsToday.com duties, it’s already been a crazy week. I wrote this on my flight to Anaheim.

If you’ve been just as busy, click on the links below in case you missed it or visit Rangers Today to get all caught up.

Heading to Triple A Round Rock? Dallas Keuchel

Ranking top 10 Rangers pitching prospects

Josh Jung is getting ready

Subscribe to Rangers Today YouTube channel

Doggy video!

This dog looks like golf announcer Gary McCord or the ring announcer in Rocky. Enjoy. See you Friday.

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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