MLB Playoff Preview – Texas Rangers
By Jeff Dickson, Director of Food & Beverage
Only one of the two teams to face off in the World Series last season is back in the playoffs, and the Texas Rangers are looking to win it all this time. After a surprising playoff run which ended with a loss to the San Francisco Giants, the Rangers showed this season that they are more than a one year wonder. After the L.A. Angels made it a close race down the stretch the Rangers finally pulled away to clinch the AL West, and currently have the second best record in the league behind the New York Yankees.
It should come as no surprise that the Rangers offense is leading the way again, as the team is in the top three in the American League in average, runs and home runs. The team has five players with more than 25 home runs despite four of them playing less than 125 games. Two of those players, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, are in their first year with the club and have made an already deep and explosive lineup, which features last season’s MVP Josh Hamilton, that much better.
C.J. Wilson, an emerging star, has built off of last season’s success to become the team ace. With a 16-7 record and 2.97 ERA Wilson is able to match up well with whoever the Ranger’s opponent throws at them. Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando round out the rotation, with Ogando likely headed to the bullpen for the postseason. While none of the bunch has pitched at the same level as Wilson this year all are good enough to keep the team in the game, especially with the loaded offense that the Rangers feature.
Second year pitcher Neftali Feliz appears to have settled into the role of closer, at least for now, despite talk at the beginning of the year of converting him back to a starter. His 30 saves and 2.83 ERA are part of a very talented and deep bullpen that the Rangers will count on to push for a title. Midseason acquisition Mike Adams has really bolstered a ‘pen that includes Koji Uehara and Darren Oliver as set up men having terrific seasons.
How the Rangers can lose:
One of the biggest worries the Rangers have is their health. With Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and others having missed time already, another injury this late in the season could mean trouble for Texas. A pitching staff that is deep although not untouchable needs the lineup to be healthy and at the top of its game. Any offense struggles might be too much for the staff to give the team a realistic chance.
How the Rangers can win:
If the lineup stays healthy and hits the way they are capable of, the pitching staff should be good enough to make another deep run and push for that title. The starters don’t have to be dominant every night if the Rangers are putting up a ton of runs; they just have to be good enough to get the ball to the bullpen with the lead.
Jeff is entering his second season with the ‘Dads and first as the director of food & beverage. The Oneonta, NY native joined the Crawdads in 2011 as a concessions assistant, and has previously worked with the Oneonta Outlaws as a sports marketing intern. Jeff is a die-hard fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and North Carolina Tar Heels.