As the Major League Baseball postseason wages on, the Texas Rangers are watching the action, instead of being a part of it. The club had the best record in the American League and secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but was swept in the ALDS. Forced to face their recently acquired rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rangers couldn’t manage to earn one single win. What went wrong for the Texas Rangers? How did this ball club manage to fall so quickly in the American League Divisional Series? Starting pitching is to blame.
Starting pitching ultimately led to the demise of the Texas Rangers. Lack of high quality, consistent arms prevented the organization from excelling this October. To be honest, it was also a big area of concern during the regular season as well. The only thing that saved them during the regular season was the power hitting. One would expect the same power bats to come alive during their playoff run, but they didn’t. What could have caused that? Well, frankly, the level of competition.
The Rangers hitters looked like All-Stars during the regular season, because the competition was average at best. Look at their division. The Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Oakland Athletics fell behind Texas, ranging from 9.0 games back to 26.0 games back, respectively. The AL West proved to be no competition for the Rangers. Let’s not even mention the other American League teams who were less than impressive (I’m talking about you Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox).
Even with these teams playing below average baseball, the Rangers spent the majority of the regular season making comeback wins or wins by just a single run. The club got behind early, stayed behind through the majority of the game, and was forced to pull out all the stops to squeeze out a win. They managed to squeeze out so many of these one-run wins, 36 to be exact, that they led the all of Major League Baseball in the statistic. They also led all other teams in the most wins when trailing in the ninth inning, with eight victories.
The biggest issue with this rally strategy is that it hardly works in postseason play. That was made obvious by the onslaught that Toronto handed the Rangers. Coming back to beat the Athletics or the White Sox is no feat worth bragging over. However, in October, the teams you are facing aren’t that easy to beat. Those are the teams that came to win and came to take it all.
With getting behind early, but being able to pull out a win in the end, one conclusion is easy to draw. The Texas Rangers have horrible starting pitching. That conclusion would be completely accurate.
Injuries were the main cause of the team’s starting pitching woes. Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and A.J. Griffin all spent time on the disabled list this past season. The club was forced to use the likes of Nick Martinez, Martin Perez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Kyle Lohse, Cesar Ramos and Lucas Harrell to start games, none of whom held an ERA of under 4.00.
Behind Cole Hamels, the No. 1 ace, the Texas Rangers had terrible arms. This issue could have easily been addressed at the trade deadline, but the team’s General Manager Jon Daniels failed to secure any aid to the troubles on the mound. Instead, Jon Daniels added Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran. While these two additions did help the team, Lucroy was filling the much needed reliable everyday catcher slot and Beltran taking over the injury-plagued DH position. They weren’t the major issues that the team was suffering.
The Rangers passed on an opportunity to secure a solid No. Three pitcher. Even a clear-cut No. 4 rotation guy would have been an improvement. Missing out on adding starting pitchers truly hurt the organization. Instead, the team went the opposite direction, in giving away pitching prospects to fill their needs. In fact, the Texas Rangers gave up too much of their farm system. What did it get them? It got them swept in the ALDS.
The Rangers front office needs to address starting pitching.
It’s plain and simple.
If the club continues to have rotation issues, then they will continue to have postseason issues.