Rangers in Weird State of Limbo at Break
Will the real Texas Rangers step forward?
Is the team that went an American League-best 26-20 on the road in the first half and a combined 33-24 in May and June? Or is it the one which currently owns the worst home record in the AL at 16-26, one that was a combined 9-22 in April and thus far in July?
Included in the Rangers’ current downturn is the 1-7 homestand against the Angels, Diamondbacks and Padres to end the first half. At the break, Texas is 42-46 and six games back of the AL West-leading Angels, making the Rangers far from out of the race, but still in an interesting spot.
On Friday, the Rangers start a nine-game road trip with three in Houston. After three in Colorado, Texas closes the trek with three in Anaheim. Ranger fans wonder whether they will buy or sell at the trade deadline? Honestly, it could go either way.
Glass half-full, if the road trip goes well with Texas winning five or six games and returning to Arlington on a nice run heading into four with the Yankees starting on July 27th, then Jon Daniels could be looking to buy. But if things go south and the Rangers stumble to start the second half, especially against two division foes, then Daniels could be in seller’s mode.
However, if Texas does end up as sellers, what assets do they have?
Well, starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, who saw his 29 1/3-inning scoreless streak end last week, has been as good as advertised and has value as a dependable veteran starter. As for the bullpen, rookie righty Keone Kela has been one of the group’s most reliable members, and Anthony Bass, who led AL relievers in innings pitched in the first half, could also have value to contenders looking to bolster their bullpens.
Current closer Shawn Tolleson, normally a setup man thrust into the role when Neftali Feliz was injured, could also have value for a team seeking middle relief. Tolleson hasn’t been awful as a closer and took his first blown save Sunday against the Padres, he’s just better suited as a setup man.
But if the Rangers are buying, what do they need? Well, another bat to help the likes of All-Star Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland would be a start. Once Adrian Beltre is over his thumb issue and Josh Hamilton returns to his pre-injury self, then the Rangers will start to be a better balanced offensive team.
As for the rotation, Matt Harrison has already returned and Martin Perez will on Friday with Derek Holland likely back in a few weeks, but the Rangers could still use another starter. However, their biggest pitching needs are in the bullpen, where adding one or two quality relievers is essential if they are to make any run for the division flag or a wild-card spot in the second half.
Then again, not overworking the bullpen again in the second half would also help.