Opposite dugout: Rangers out of contention, pondering a selloff

rangers-logo.jpgManager: Jeff Banister (4th season)

Record: 40-54

Last 10 games: 2-8

Who to watch: DH Shin-soo Choo (.290 with 17 HR, 42 RBIs), RF Nomar Mazara (15 HR, 57 RBIs), 3B Adrían Beltré (.270), 1B Joey Gallo (21 HR, 50 RBIs), LHP Cole Hamels (4-8, 4.28 ERA), RHP Keone Kela (3.38 ERA, 22 saves)

Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (1-6 in 2017)

Pitching probables:

July 13: LHP Cole Hamels (4-8) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (2-11), 7:05 p.m., MASN2
July 14: LHP Martín Perez (2-3) vs. RHP Yefry Ramírez, 7:15 p.m., FOX
July 15: LHP Mike Minor (6-5) vs. RHP Jimmy Yacabonis (0-0), 1:05 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Rangers:

With an intriguing mix of productive veterans and some emerging youthful players who seemed primed to produce, the Rangers figured to challenge the World Series champion Astros for supremacy in the American League West this season. At very least, the Rangers were supposed to make things a bit difficult for their in-state neighbors. So how exactly did a team with playoff aspirations end up 14 games below .500 and pondering a massive selloff heading into their final series of the first half? Take your pick - the reasons are many. Injuries, inconsistency, guys who were supposed to produce doing anything but. However you slice it, the Rangers are staring at a double-digit deficit in the AL West and already looking to next season - and beyond. Like the Orioles, they’re pondering shedding salary by trading high-priced veterans. So the Rangers team that starts this weekend’s series at Camden Yards might not be the same squad that scatters for the four-day break.

Well, the offense has been a mixed bag for the Rangers, who rank 24th in the majors in batting average .237, 11th in runs with 414 and 23rd in hits with 747. They steal a lot of bases - their 51 swipes are ninth-most in the bigs - but don’t get enough runners on to do enough damage. DH Shin-soo Choo has been their most consistent hitter, slashing .290/.399/.500 with 17 homers and 42 RBIs, and if not for the fact that he’s solely a stick, he’d be drawing trade interest from contenders. Injuries have limited third baseman Adrían Beltré to 62 games and he’s lost his power stroke, having hit just four homers. First baseman Joey Gallo possesses plenty of power - his 21 homers and 51 RBIs top the team - but he’s batting just .186. Right fielder Nomar Mazara has cooled off after a sizzling start, but is still batting .270 with 15 homers and 57 RBIs.

The Rangers will throw three lefties at the Birds. Friday’s starter, Cole Hamels, is one of those guys whose name has come up repeatedly in trade chatter. He’s won only once in his last seven starts, posting a 5.21 ERA in that span with a .289/.353/.533 slash line against. He’s 1-4 with a 5.35 ERA in six career starts against the Orioles, with an 0-3 record and 8.33 ERA at Camden Yards. Lefty Martín Perez will start Saturday, and is making just his sixth start of the season after a freak offseason injury - he broke his non-pitching elbow when a bull charged him on his ranch in Venezuela in December. Perez has been having trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark, as evidenced by the seven home runs he’s allowed in just 22 1/3 innings. Perez has made it through six innings only once this season. Sunday’s starter is Mike Minor, who had a 2.53 ERA and a 2-0 record in five starts between June 9 and July 4. In his last outing, at Boston on July 9, Minor allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings, taking the loss. He’s 2-3 with a 6.31 ERA in seven road starts this season, and has yielded 15 home runs in 96 2/3 innings. This will be Minor’s first career start versus Baltimore after three relief outings totaling 3 1/3 innings.

Closer Keone Kela has converted all 22 of his save opportunities this season, pitching to an overall 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

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