The Texas Rangers Recent Struggles and What They Have to Address

By: Nicholas Gilanfar

Approaching the last month of the MLB regular season, the Texas Rangers find themselves in a dogfight for the AL West title with the defending World Series champions Houston Astros and now the Seattle Mariners.

Despite outstanding efforts from the Rangers all season long, that has not been the case as of late after losing nine out of their last ten games and losing the division lead for the first time this season to the surging Seattle Mariners.

Where We Stand:

Seattle Mariners: 74-56

Texas Rangers: 73-57 (1 GB)

Houston Astros: 74-58 (1 GB)

The Texas Rangers have had a tough stretch over the last two weeks dropping nine out of ten losing the series finale vs. the LA Angels, getting swept by the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and losing three out of four to the Minnesota Twins. Before the losing skid, from August 2 – August 15 the Rangers were deemed unbeatable by achieving a record of 12-2 in 14 games, practically running away with the division.

Offensive Woes

Over the season, the Texas Rangers’ offense has been a force to be reckoned with. In the American League so far, the Rangers have led the league with 727 runs and 1216 hits with a season batting average of 0.279. Through this horrific ten-game stretch, the Rangers have been batting at 0.211. The offensive cold spell has been primarily featured by second baseman Marcus Semien (.227) RF Adolis Garcia (.158) and C Jonah Heim (0.087) all three were All-Star Starters in 2023.

Second Baseman Marcus Semien is our leadoff hitter and has been setting the tone all season long by making an impact offensively in the leadoff spot. Semien has been consistent all year long holding a season average of .278, but that has not been the case over the past ten games. This is Semien’s first slump of the year going 10-44 in that span. It is brutally affecting the rest of the lineup because you are given a responsibility when leading off and that is to set the standard with offensive production. Semien will return to his normal ways soon, but it is getting down to the nitty gritty where we will need every quality at-bat we can get.

Right fielder Adolis Garcia has had a career year with 94 Runs-batted-in (second in AL) and 32 home runs (third in AL) showing that undeniable hitting power all season long. Although Garcia has had an electric campaign, he has also struggled during the losing skid going 6-38 in the last ten games. Garcia serves as the Rangers’ cleanup hitter which is a vital part of the lineup. Because of Garcia’s cold spell, runs are not generating due to the fact that the offense for most of the season has gone through Garcia’s dynamic bat.

Catcher Jonah Heim recently returned from the ten-day IL after straining his wrist. Heim came back a lot sooner than expected coasting through rehab and getting back to the team. Despite his encouraging efforts to return Heim is not 100%. The all-star catcher has also had an outstanding season with a batting average of .266 and 15 home runs cementing himself as a household name as one of the most dominant catchers in the league.

Before the injury, Heim had one of the biggest workloads in the American League playing every day. Heim strives when he plays every day, being able to keep his bat warm as he was very consistent through that stretch prior to injury. Now, Heim has struggled to adjust to his role, going 2-23 over the last 10 games. He was hitless over his last 16 at-bats until he hit a grand slam in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins which sent a message to Ranger fans that we may be getting the Jonah Heim back that we have been accustomed to all season

Lack of Identity for the Bullpen

This has been the Texas Rangers kryptonite all year, but now the bullpen has gotten to the point where it is time to sound the alarm. This year the bullpen has averaged a 4.23 earned run average as we have not yet established an ideal closer, we have only completed 24 out of 48 potential save situations all year. Over the past 11 games, the ball pen has an ERA of 6.85.

Left-handed pitcher Will Smith has served as the primary closer holding a record of 1-5, 4.24 ERA, and 22 Saves. Throughout the year Will Smith was a consistent option as the closing pitcher but he crumbled as of late letting up six runs over his last four appearances. Now, there is not a lot of confidence throwing Smith out there in closing situations.

Due to Smith’s underwhelming pitching, we have started to turn to newly acquired left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman who has shined for Texas, making 19 appearances for the ball club averaging a 2.29 ERA. Chapman is one of the most established closers in this era logging 318 Career saves which is tied for 23rd most in league history.

Despite Chapman’s stellar play, he has not been able to convert his success to a closing standard. Chapman has had four save opportunities for the Rangers so far and has blown three of them logging an Earned run average of over four. Chapman has had a dominant pitching season for Texas but his lack of save ability is concerning because we are running out of options.

Over the last ten games, the bullpen has let up 26 runs in 37 innings. Lately, quality starts that have been put together have not been able to stay afloat due to the lack of consistency in the middle of the bullpen which includes Josh Sborz who has let up six earned runs in his last 3.1 innings, Will Smith who has let up six earned runnings in 2.2 Innings, and Brock Burke who has let up four runs in five innings pitched. Burke and Sborz are usually relied upon to pitch in high-leverage situations, it has not been the case lately.

On a positive note, the recent performances from first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, third baseman Ezequiel Duran, right-handed pitcher Chris Stratton, and right-handed pitcher Jose Leclerc should not go unnoticed amidst the struggles across 10 games.

  • 1B Nathaniel Lowe: 12-41 (0.293)
  • 3B Ezequial Duran: 9-26 (0.346)
  • RP Chris Stratton: 1 ER (7 IP)
  • RP Jose Leclerc: 0 ER (6.2 IP)

All four of these guys have had an up-down season but have all found themselves on heaters that can generate fuel to the Rangers’ engine moving forward by providing consistent bats and relievers that we can often depend on in late-inning situations.

Path to the AL West Title

Ranger fans are counting the days to the postseason as we approach the final month of baseball. The Rangers will have to go full throttle down the stretch as it will be down to the wire. Soon enough this team will be at full strength by retaining all-star third baseman Josh Jung and starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi from injury.

September will consist of three must-win series for the Texas Rangers:

  • September 4-6 vs. Houston Astros
  • September 22-24 vs. Seattle Mariners
  • September 28- October 1 @ Seattle Mariners

Head-to-Head Standings:

Texas vs. Houston: 4-6

Texas vs. Seattle: 5-1

If the Rangers were to have a tying record with either team, the team with a better head-to-head record would have the better seeding. The winner of AL West will get a wild card bye.

For the remaining 10 games of the year the Texas Rangers will be facing the current division leaders in the Seattle Mariners for 7 out of the last 10 games. What the Rangers need to do moving forward is produce quality at-bats, assess the bullpen situation, and play like there is no tomorrow. The league has seen what the Rangers can do all season. This team doesn’t have a ceiling but it will be interesting to see if they can tap back into their full potential to make a playoff run that the city of Dallas will remember forever.

Photo Via David Berding/Getty Images

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