By: Anthony Miller
The Texas Rangers have been hitting the ground running since the All-Star break as they find themselves in a strong position to take the top spot in the American League.
Since the All-Star break, Texas has won seven of their last nine games including sweeps of the Cleveland Guardians and the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite a hard-fought series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rangers were able to pull out an 8-4 win Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep of LA. Prior to the Dodgers series, they won six straight games allowing just 2.5 runs per game. In the LA series, they allowed over 10 runs a game including 11 and 16 run games.
Texas has two more series remaining in the month with two three-game series against the Houston Astros and the San Diego Padres. Every series in the division intensifies later as the league gets into the season, but this Astros series is critical for the Rangers. Houston currently sits three games behind Texas for first place in the AL West. If the Rangers want to stay on top of the division, winning two or three games would make life more comfortable for them.
What’s Been Working for The Texas Rangers So Far?
Texas has the best offense in the majors right now as they have scored 580 runs which is more than any other team in the league. Eight Texas Rangers have hit more than 10 home runs during the season including Adolis Garcia leading the way and ranking seventh in the MLB with 24 home runs and tied for first in the league with 80 RBIs. 25-year-old sensation Josh Jung has blown up on the scene in his second year playing on the team recording 19 home runs and 59 RBIs looking to be a promising star on the team.
One of the most impressive stats the Rangers have this season is they lead the league in run differential with +151. This clearly shows that not only are they getting the runs needed to win, but their pitching has been staying strong despite not having their top ace Jacob deGrom available.
All their starting pitchers in the rotation are at least .500 in their records with Andrew Heaney being the only one not over .500 with a 6-6 record this year. 33-year-old Nathan Eovaldi continues his career-pacing season sitting with an 11-3 record and a career-best 2.69 ERA. Four pitchers on the rotation have under a 3.00 ERA on the season. The addition of Aroldis Chapman has helped the bullpen get stronger heading into the final two months of the season.
Corey Seager Injury Concerns
For the second time this season, Corey Seager heads to the IL as he is dealing with a sprained thumb injury. Seager injured the finger in Friday’s game against the Dodgers sending him to the ten-day injured list on Saturday. Earlier in the season, he injured his hamstring he strained it two weeks into the season.
It doesn’t appear to be a serious injury as Seager has been told it’ll take about a week or two for the inflammation to go down. The team should see him back in action in early August. The concern comes with the fact that he has now missed 31 games and counting this season due to two injuries.
He’s a key piece to this offense if he qualified for batting average, he would lead the American League with a 3.50 batting average. He also has 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in a 66-game stretch. The offensive production can’t afford to miss him for too long as he gets runs on the board with his smart and decisive ability to know when to hit the ball.
Rangers-Astros Series Preview
In the second-to-last series between these two teams, the Rangers hold a three-game lead on Houston and need to stay ahead of them. The Astros have been playing well themselves going 6-3 in the last three games since the All-Star break. Houston will have a slight advantage as this will be the first time since the All-Star break that they are playing in front of their home crowd.
This series could change the way the season goes for either team as a Houston series win gives them momentum to catch Texas in August. Should Texas win the series, that puts the Rangers in a strong position to pull away with the lead in August making it hard for them to not win the division by the end of the season.
The matchup to watch out for is Houston’s stout pitching and defense against Texas’ explosive offense. Only three teams in MLB have allowed fewer runs during the season than Houston has so they are in a lot of low-scoring games. Texas thrives when they hit five or more runs in games to pick up wins. Without Seager in the lineup, the Rangers need their bats swinging often to force Houston to outscore them. This is never an easy series, but one that could put the Rangers in a position to run the tables in the AL West.
Featured Image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY