Manager: Jeff Banister (3rd season)
Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: SS Elvis Andrus (.295/.339/.462 with 11 HR, 50 RBIs), 3B/DH Adrian Beltre (.275/.374/.522 with 8 HR, 30 RBIs), 3B Joey Gallo (21 HR, 41 RBIs), LHP Cole Hamels (7-4, 3.05 ERA), LHP Alex Claudio (2.59 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (4-3 in 2016)
July 17: RHP Andrew Cashner vs. RHP Chris Tillman, 7:05 p.m., MASN
July 18: RHP Tyson Ross vs. RHP Dylan Bundy, 7:05 p.m., MASN
July 19: LHP Martin Perez vs. RHP Kevin Gausman, 7:05 p.m., MASN
July 20: LHP Cole Hamels vs. LHP Wade Miley, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Inside the Rangers:
In 2016, the Texas Rangers played in 47 one-run games. They went 36-11, which is a .766 winning percentage. Constantly being able to pull out victories in close affairs led the Rangers to an American League West title and a 95-67 record. This year, the Rangers are currently 7-14 in one-run contests and they sit at one game under .500 because of this reversal of fortune.
When discussing the Rangers offense, the first person that obviously comes to mind is the ageless wonder, third baseman Adrian Beltre. The 38-year-old has been able to continue to defy conventional wisdom when it comes to ballplayers becoming worse as they age into their 30s. After missing all of April and most of May with a calf injury, Beltre has returned with a vengeance and is slugging .522. So far in July, he’s continuing to crush the ball, and has posted a .568 slugging percentage. Elsewhere in the Texas infield, corner infielder Joey Gallo is a true boom-or-bust hitter for Texas. He leads the Rangers with 21 home runs, but also has the fourth most strikeouts in the AL. Gallo truly swings for the fences in every at-bat and his numbers certainly prove that out. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is enjoying the best season of his career when it comes to power. In only 86 games, he has achieved his career high for home runs with 11. Similarly, his .462 slugging percentage is another career best. On offense, the Rangers’ biggest disappointment is surely Jonathan Lucroy. The catcher has been unable to hit for any power and his .361 slugging percentage is 23rd out of 26 catchers in baseball with at least 200 plate appearances.
The four-game set begins with Andrew Cashner pitching on Monday. Cashner is striking out batters at a lower rate than last year, yet he is still enjoying a better ERA (3.54) and WHIP (1.426) than he did in 2016. Cashner has done a good job recently of keeping the ball in the park, allowing only one home run in his last four starts (23 innings pitched). On Tuesday, Tyson Ross will take the mound. Ross’ two starts in July have been all right, but not exactly inspiring. In 10 2/3 innings, he has allowed five runs while walking seven batters. In the third game of the series, Martin Perez will pitch. Perez recorded a pair of quality starts in his last three games and currently has a 4.55 ERA. To conclude the four-game set, the left-handed Cole Hamels will start. Hamels has been enjoying a strong year in Texas, given that his 1.017 WHIP is the second-best number of his career. Additionally, his 3.05 ERA is the best he’s produced in his two and a half seasons as a Ranger.
The Rangers’ opening day closer, Sam Dyson, no longer finds himself with the Rangers. After a solid 2.43 ERA in 2016 with 38 saves in 43 opportunities, Dyson’s 2017 started disastrously and he had a 10.80 ERA before the Rangers offloaded him to the San Francisco Giants. The current replacement for Sam Dyson is now Alex Claudio. He recorded two saves in the Rangers’ recent series at Kansas City and has a 2.59 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, both very solid numbers. At one point this season, the Rangers trusted Matt Bush (3.41 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) in the ninth inning, but he has now been relegated to setup duties for Texas.