If you’re the Texas Rangers, and you are only five games above .500, there has to be something inside you thanking your lucky stars things aren’t much worse.
Through almost mid-June, the Rangers currently sit two games in front of the Seattle Mariners and four and a half games in front of the Los Angeles Angels in the American League’s Western Division.
At the start of the 2011 season, the Rangers were the team to beat. Though my predictions for this division don’t look all that great at this point in the season, there is still a lot of time left.
The Rangers have dealt with losing Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz to the disabled list and now will be without catcher Mike Napoli, who was just put on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique.
Not only have they struggled with injuries, but their starters, outside of C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando, have struggled, as well. Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis have brought their share of good starts but, as of late, have brought their struggles along, too.
After eight innings of shutout ball against Tampa Bay, Lewis has given up 15 earned runs over his last two starts (4.2 IP). He gave up nine runs against Detroit (3.1 IP) and six against the Minnesota Twins (1.1 IP) in his very next start.
Matt Harrison, after not giving up a single run in back-to-back starts (14.1 IP) against the Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals, has given up six runs over his last two starts (10 IP) against Detroit and Minnesota.
Though Derek Holland was more than impressive against the Cleveland Indians in early June, throwing a complete game shutout, outside of that one start, the young right-hander has given up 13 earned runs (17 IP) in his last three starts.
This team can not keep counting on Wilson and Ogando to right the ship every time it looks like it’s going to tip over.
We can blame the pitching staff all we want, as well as the battle some of the starters are going through just to figure things out and get themselves right. But after starting the month of June with a perfect 5-0 record, the Rangers have dropped five of their last seven games, including losing back-to-back series against the Tigers and Twins.
Over the next month and a half, the Rangers front office will be collecting names and talking to their scouting department about possible deals they could make at or before July’s trade deadline.
They know they need to focus on pitching, both in the rotation as well as the back end of the bullpen. Owner Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels both know they are just one or two moves away from running away from the rest of the division.
It’s not going to be just any move. It’s going to take the right move for this team to be able to put some distance between them and those chasing them in the AL West. If they wait for the Mariners or Angels to make a move, they could be watching as the ones who get left in the dust.
As for right now, a bad AL West division is keeping them afloat when it chould have already drowned them.