By Hunter Holdridge
Most of us missed Nomar Mazara smashing the longest home run of the season today (491 feet) while driving in 3 runs in the Rangers slugfest victory (15-9) over the Angels. The rookie has been quite impressive this season with his solid defense and his cool demeanor at the dish. Mazara has already drawn raving reviews from big time baseball analysts including accolades like “AL rookie of the month”.
Does this look like a rookie’s slash line 2 months into a season (.320/.365/.500/.865)? That’s unreal for a 21 year old who leads Texas in batting average (.320), home runs (8), and on-base percentage (.365)!
Another Ranger scorching the baseball is Ian Desmond. The man is flat out hammering the stitches out of the ball currently. He’s raised his average to (.296) while coming through with clutch hits for Texas. He went (3-6) in the Rangers win today while adding an RBI. Desmond won’t get cheated with his swing and right now pitchers might want to take notice!
Jeff Banister finally made the right call in relieving Shawn Tolleson of his closing duties after he blew another save (4 BS) in Oakland. Sam Dyson was promoted the next day and hasn’t missed a beat. Dyson was my choice in a closer since he’s had some experience in that role in the past while being a hard sinkerball pitcher who keeps the ball in the park.
The Rangers lead the league in starters ERA (3.40) but come in dead last with bullpen ERA (5.28). This was the next step in trying to find reliable pitchers in the pen for Texas. The formula of Bush, Diekman, and Dyson seems to be working out quite nicely, since all 3 of them have “+ stuff” to get hitters out with.
After the moves made by the skipper, Texas went down to Houston and continued to bury the Astros. Houston is now 0-6 against the Rangers this season and in large part due to the Texas pitching staff stifling the Astros. Colby Lewis could have 7-8 wins on the season and has been lights out, along with “ace” Cole Hamels. Texas has also gotten good production from Derek Holland and Martin Perez. Texas will get a huge shot in the arm this Saturday with the return of Yu Darvish! This will be a filthy rotation moving forward if healthy.
After an eventful weekend and start to this week for Texas, there are still some questions Banister needs to address.
Now I’m not going to rant over and over about Prince Fielder’s lack of production or a pulse for that matter. It’s very clear there’s something not quite right with Fielder, whether it is a physical ailment, mechanics, or all in his head. What I do know is its time for the head man to move Fielder down in the order because he’s killing the Rangers with no production out of the 3 hole or clean up spot in the order.
He was the only member of the order to not get a “hit” on an 18 hit barrage Wednesday afternoon against the Halos! Texas needs more from their 19 million dollar (DH) man than a .193 average with 2 home runs! Another piece that’s not getting it done this season is Mitch Moreland, which isn’t quite to Fielder’s level yet but without these 2 big left handed bats the Rangers are left vulnerable in key spots during games.
Going Forward: Moving ahead, the Ranger’s and Banister feel pretty good on where things stand at the moment only trailing Seattle by game and have somewhat figured out the closer role. You now have a rotation that looks like this: Hamels, Darvish, Lewis, Holland, Perez, and AJ when he comes back healthy! That group is a playoff caliber rotation and remember, “pitching wins championships!”
The lineup has been clicking so far due to guys like Desmond and Mazara scorching the ball while Rougned Odor provides that spark and attitude. Adrian Beltre then adds that wily veteran presence, with the catcher position actually playing quite well on both sides. Ryan Rua has been a nice surprise and has performed well up to this point, and Elvis continues to swing a hot bat!
We might see Joey Gallo actually take away some DH at bats from Fielder, which at this point might not be a bad thing. Depending on Odor’s punishment for the punch, we could possibly see Jurickson Profar for a short period as well.
The clock is about to turn over to June and Texas looks poised to take over the West as things start settling into place in the rotation and lineup.