Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Chicago White Sox - Robin's Revenge

Think there's a Ron Karkovice sig on there? - Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With Nolan Ryan now in Houston, who will stop Robin Ventura and the Chicago White Sox?

Series Schedule:

Friday, April 18 7:05: RHP Felipe Paulino vs. LHP Martin Perez

Saturday, April 19 7:05: LHP Jose Quintana vs. RHP Colby Lewis

Sunday, April 20 2:05: RHP Erik Johnson vs. LHP Robbie Ross Jr.

Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura has to be the happiest person to see Nolan Ryan leave the Rangers. Sure, Texas eventually stopped playing the video of Nolan beating upon Ventura's noggin on the big board every game when he became manager, but that doesn't mean it stopped everyone from thinking about it, talking about it, or asking about it every time the White Sox came to Texas. But now Nolan is virtually retired leaving no final line of defense should Ventura decide to make his move. He's waited two decades for this moment. Watch out Ranger pitchers. It's Ventura's way or the Ventura highway.

Of course, the Rangers have more important things to worry about than the machinations of a manager with a 20 year grudge. Namely, they should have their record from last season versus the Midwest teams on their minds.

Against the Chicago teams, Milwaukee, and Minnesota, the Rangers went 8-12. Those four teams combined for a winning percentage of .415 in 2013. Had the Rangers won just half of those 20 games against these teams they were statistically heavily favored to beat, game 163 never would have even been necessary. For a 91 win Rangers team that had to play a tie-breaking game against the Tampa Bay Rays to qualify for the playoffs, it's not difficult to see that troubles in the Great Lakes likely cost the Rangers October baseball.

With that in mind, the Rangers are looking to improve against Central division opponents. The AL Central is annually considered one of the weakest divisions in the sport and, so, the 2013 Rangers went out and laid a 13-19 egg against that division. Amazingly, the only team the Rangers had a winning record against from the Central was the eventual AL Central Champion Detroit Tigers. If the Rangers want to return to the postseason in 2014, they can't afford to play as poorly against the rest of the Central as they did last season.

To help with this, the White Sox did the Rangers a solid and scheduled Chris Sale yesterday which means the Rangers will miss his next turn. Thanks, Chicago! Sometimes you get a Yu vs. King Felix match-up, other times you miss Sale and Darvish in a series altogether. That's the case this weekend. Apparently, against the Central, the Rangers need all the help they can get.

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the team responsible for the existence of the acronym "TWTW":

  • Martin Perez: 2-0, 5.40 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, .357 BABIP, 76.9% LOB, 2.74 FIP, 3.37 xFIP, 0.5 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 20.0 innings
  • Felipe Paulino: 0-1, 6.75 K/9, 5.52 BB/9, .346 BABIP, 66.9% LOB, 6.96 FIP, 5.38 xFIP, -0.3 WAR - Last three starts: 13 runs allowed in 14.2 innings

Thoughts: Martin Perez does this thing where he makes you feel like he's been around forever. It seems like he's been in the Ranger system for a dozen years. He's made 30 starts and is a longer-tenured Ranger than like half the roster but he's 23 years old. Hell, he even looks like a 35-year-old. The best thing about Martin Perez thus far this season has been his ability to make you believe that he's been around forever from a mental standpoint. His maturity has been a palpable, witnessed experience. For a guy who has only really been in the Ranger rotation since last June, he already feels like a mainstay.

I knew I recognized the name Felipe Paulino. He pitched in 2011's other worst game ever. At least now he's kind of the White Sox Dave Bush.

  • Colby Lewis: 0-1, 6.75 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, .389 BABIP, 65.8% LOB, 4.54 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, 0.0 WAR - Only start: 4 runs allowed in 5.1 innings
  • Jose Quintana: 1-0, 8.53 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, .255 BABIP, 72.9% LOB, 3.62 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 19.0 innings

Thoughts: I feel like Jose Quintana is gunning for membership in the Tom Allen Grieve Hat Tip Hall of Fame. The Tom Allen Grieve Hat Tip Hall of Fame is a special place where pitchers go when they're not quite as good as you'd believe they were if you only watched them pitch against the Rangers.

Now that Colby is officially back and the story of his gutsy climb back to the majors has been told, we can get back to complaining every time he allows a solo home run. The Internet viewing baseball fan shows no clemency for the high HR/FB even from its heroes.

  • Robbie Ross Jr.: 1-0, 6.50 K/9, 4.00 BB/9, .255 BABIP, 88.5% LOB, 3.99 FIP, 4.04 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last three starts: 2 runs allowed in 18.0 innings
  • Erik Johnson: 0-1, 7.94 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, .382 BABIP, 62.9% LOB, 3.46 FIP, 4.25 xFIP, 0.3 WAR - Last three starts: 12 runs allowed in 17.0 innings

Thoughts: Robbie Ross is just begging us to keep doubting him. Jordan Akins. 2012 spring training. April 2013. Rotation bid. Usefulness as a starter. He just keeps hopping over the hurdles we put in front of him. Who knows if he's destined to stick around in the rotation in the future. More likely, he's still just a bridge piece for now until everyone is healthy when he can then slide back into the bullpen. But he's doing well as a starter so far, and for all I know, he'll be there the next 10 years ... except doubting his ability to do that is probably the only way it'll ever happen. So, I guess you suck, Robert.

G..g...g..ghost of Erik Johnson?!

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Chicago White Sox (8-8, 4th Place in AL Central)

Rangers' 2013 Record vs. Chicago: 4-2

Chicago's Recent Results: 1-2 home series loss against the Boston Red Sox

Chicago's Road Record: 2-4

The Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 106/97 - Runs: 111/108

SB Nation White Sox Blog: South Side Sox

Match-up: (as of 04/18) Rangers White Sox Advantage
Batting (RAR) -4.8 (20th) 10.4 (2nd) Look at 'em flaunting their ability to hit
Base Running (RAR) 0.6 (12th) -1.9 (28th) Why Elvis Andrus gets the big bucks
Starters (RAR) 6.2 1.8 No Darvish :( No Tanner!
Bullpen (RAR) 2.9 (14th) -3.5 (25th) Vote Pedro
Defense (UZR) -0.2 (16th) -7.7 (27th) More like UGHZR
Overall (UZR + RAR) 4.7 -0.9

They can't put it on the board, at least

Questions to Answer:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10: How much do you wish the Rangers had signed Jose Dariel Abreu instead of trading for Prince Fielder?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Alex Rios heats up against his old team.)
  • Over/Under: 2.5 times Fielder is intentionally walked in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Martin Perez tonight as he looks to get cozy in the role of Ranger No. 2 starter?
  • Yea or Nay: The Rangers win this series and get their season against AL Central teams off to a good start?
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