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Know Your Enemy: Texas Rangers

For reasons that defy logic, we go to Arlington in September when it is H-O-T.

MLB: MAY 07 Mariners at Rangers

As many of you probably noticed last week, I had our schedule messed up on my own Twitter feed. I thought the Angels were this weekend, when they were in fact the weekday games. Maybe my instincts were right, and we should have just bypassed that Angels series entirely.

But with that bungle out of the way, we are off to Arlington, Texas to face off against the Texas Rangers.

Last time

Let’s head back to the days past in ... April. Yermín Mercedes was taking the league by storm as a “rookie sensation” (ESPN’s words), and the Rangers were still trash, just, like, baby trash.

Despite the fact that they blew a five-run lead, the White Sox took the first game of the series against the Rangers, 9-7. Dane Dunning was facing off against his former team (we miss you, Dane, but we love Lance) and gave up five runs in the third inning. The White Sox pitching just wasn’t there after Dylan Cease gave up a two-run home run and Evan Marshall gave up a three-run line drive.

The second game was a lot closer, ending with the White Sox taking the game after Nick Madrigal doubled home the winning run.

In the last game of the series, Michael Kopech went five innings and struck out a career-high 10 batters. With that final win, 8-4, the White Sox swept the Rangers right out of Chicago.

How’s it going

Well, yesterday the Rangers faced off against the Astros and lost, 12-1, which was zero help for the White Sox, who are three behind the Astros for the second-best American League record. Meanwhile the Rangers are smack-dab at the bottom of the AL West, with one of the worst records in the American League. Really, all they can do is hope to spoil postseason playoff races and hope 2022 is better for them. The roster is missing depth and the pitching staff is missing any sort of elite starter (not to mention their bullpen being an absolute mess). The Rangers IL is a veritable who’s-who of “who is that guy?”: Eli White, Nick Snyder, Andy Ibanez, Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Bush, Maximo Acosta ... well, you get the idea.

The Rangers are 29th in baseball in runs per game as well as batting average, 27th in hits, and 26th in home runs. Joey Gallo to the Yankees definitely put a dent in their offense, considering he was their powerhouse. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is leading the team in batting average with a respectable .265 as well as hits (153). Adolis Garcia leads in home runs (30) and RBIs (81) with Nathaniel Lowe rounding things out with a .353 OBP. Upon further review, it does appear that those three are still currently members of the Texas Rangers so it looks like they didn’t give up EVERYONE at the trade deadline like the Cubs — but it felt pretty close.

The Rangers are 10-10 in their last 20 games, and 22-52 on the road. They’re doing horrible against their Central opponents, posting a 9-17 record.

Pitching matchups

Today will be Dylan Cease vs. Taylor Hearn. Cease is 11-7 this season over 151 13 innings, with a 4.22 ERA. His last appearance against the Red Sox didn’t go quite as well as it could have, going 2 23 innings and giving up seven earned runs, so Cease will be looking for things to be better. He’s faced the Rangers twice in his career, going 1-0 over 9 13 innings and posting a 4.82 ERA.

Meanwhile Hearn is 6-4 this season over 90 13 innings, with a 3.99 ERA. In his last seven starts, he’s 4-1 with a 3.72 ERA. Hearn’s latest appearance was a win in Oakland, where he lasted six innings and fanned two while allowing five hits and three earned runs. He’s never faced the White Sox as a starter, having started only one game in his debut season of 2019 (and getting a 108.00 ERA for the trouble) and spending time in relief in 2020 posting a 3.63 ERA in 14 games. He’s bouncing between the the bullpen and starting rotation for 2021, having started eight games of 39 appearances overall. Hearn has four pitches: a 4-seam fastball, sinker, slider, and changeup. He’s 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA at home, and 2-4 at night.

Saturday will feature Lance Lynn vs. Spencer Howard. Lynn is 10-4 this year with a 2.50 ERA, and has been nursing a knee injury, recently spending some time on the IL. His last appearance against Boston resulted in a no-decision, going five innings and striking out nine. Lynn has only faced Texas once in his career, in 2018, which resulted in another no-decision after five innings.

Howard is 0-4 this season over 39 innings, with a 7.38 ERA. He’s 0-2 in his last seven starts, going 17 13 innings and posting a 9.35 ERA. Howard’s also never faced the White Sox as a starter. The hurler came over to the Rangers from the Phillies with Kevin Gowdy and Josh Gessner for Kyle Gibson, Ian Kennedy, and Hans Crouse. He debuted in 2020 and made six starts; in 2021 he’s made a total of 12 starts between the two teams. Spencer has six pitches in his arsenal: a 4-seam fastball, changeup, cutter, curveball, slider, and sinker. Post All-Star break for the Rangers, Howard is 0-2 with an 11.81 ERA over five starts.

For the finale on Sunday it will be Lucas Giolito vs. Jordan Lyles. Giolito is 9-9 this season, with a 3.77 ERA. He’s struck out 188 this season but didn’t look his best when facing the Angels, lasting four innings and allowing three earned runs.

Lyles is arguably the Rangers ace at the moment. He’s leading the team in wins (nine), ERA (5.20), and strikeouts (131), and he’s 3-4 in his last seven starts, going 41 13 innings and most recently getting the win against the Astros. Lyles is 1-1 against the White Sox, having last faced them in 2014 when he was on the Rockies. He has five pitches in his arsenal: a 4-seam fastball, slider, curveball, sinker, and changeup.

Why we still hate them