BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 8: Ron Washington #38 of the Texas Rangers celebrates with Josh Hamilton #32 after defeating the Boston Red Sox, 10-9, at Fenway Park August 8, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
With a month to go in the season, the Rangers are in pretty good shape as far as making the postseason goes:
AL West Standings
There's a lot of reasons right now to feel like the Rangers are in great shape to get into the postseason...
The first, and most obvious, reason to believe that the Rangers are poised to get into the playoffs is simply the team's record. They are 4 games up on Oakland in the A.L. West, and 5 games up on Baltimore, the team that currently would earn the second wild card slot and play Oakland in the one game wild card playoff. Baseball Prospectus has the Rangers' chances of making the postseason at 99.8%, including a 95.1% chance of winning the A.L. West. Cool Standings gives the Rangers a 98.5% chance of making the postseason, including a 82.5% chance of winning the division and a 15.9% chance of making the Wild Card.
Standings aside, the Rangers are fairly healthy at this point in the season. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz are done for the season, and Mike Napoli is on the 15 day disabled list, but those are the only three players on the disabled list right now (although Matt West may be moved to the 60 day d.l. soon to increase the team's postseason roster flexibility, and open a 40 man roster spot if one is necessary). Napoli's return is being delayed, but it appears that he will be activated before season's end, and in the meantime, Geovany Soto and Luis Martinez are able to hold down the catchers spot without killing the team.
The offense, after a poor July, has been lighting it up in August, scoring a 163 runs in 28 games, and posting a .288/.347/.463 slash line for the month:
Texas is first in the A.L. in runs scored and in OPS for the month of August, and they are 16 runs better than Anaheim, the #2 team in runs scored in the A.L. this month.
Drew Davison wrote about the relief corps today, and as he pointed out, the bullpen is in better position in terms of workload than it was at this point last season. Robbie Ross, of course, is at 60.2 innings, and has been ridden hard, although Ron Washington has backed off on how much he's used him lately. Mike Adams is only at 44 innings, Mark Lowe is only at 36 innings, and Koji Uehara is only at 24 innings. The injuries to Lowe and Uehara weakened the bullpen during the season, but since their arms are fresh, it can pay dividends down the stretch. Joe Nathan, since being rested for about a week, has come back strong, as well. While the Rangers really could use another lefty reliever in the bullpen (and Martin Perez may get a look in that role when rosters expand), for the most part, the bullpen is a strength.
The starting pitching is more of a mixed bag, but it still is in fairly good shape, with the biggest complaint being that the Rangers don't have a legit #1 starter right now. Matt Harrison has been great all year, Yu Darvish has shown flashes of greatness and was outstanding in his last start, Ryan Dempster is a workmanlike veteran, and Derek Holland and Scott Feldman each have their attributes. Rangers' starters have a 4.25 ERA for August, which is 7th in the A.L., and respectable given the home park the team plays in.
Bottom line is, with 32 games to go, Rangers fans have every reason to be confident. Texas has the best record and the largest division lead in the A.L., most everyone is healthy, and the team is playing well heading into September. Texas looks like a team that is charged to charge into the playoffs.