Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Boston Red Sox - They Are The Champions, My Friends

What should have been - Dilip Vishwanat

The Rangers get their first look at the defending champs as Texas travels to Boston for a three game set

Series Schedule:

Monday, April 07 6:10: RHP John Lackey vs. RHP Tanner Scheppers

Tuesday, April 08 5:10: LHP Felix Doubront vs. LHP Martin Perez

Wednesday, April 09 3:05: RHP Jake Peavy vs. LHP Robbie Ross Jr.

We reset after a week of baseball and the Rangers sit at 3-3. The makeshift rotation has gone a full turn and the Rangers are a game back of first place. After six games, the Rangers have faced the likes of Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, David Price and Alex Cobb. After six games, the Rangers have started the likes of Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross Jr., Joe Saunders, and Nick Martinez. For this Rangers team, given what we knew coming in after the horrors of spring, I think you take the 3-3 record a week into the season gladly.

Now, Yu Darvish is back, Colby Lewis might be on his way, Matt Harrison is ramping up, and even Derek Holland is already tossing off the mound as he works his way back. If the goal for April was to keep their heads above water, the Ranger doggy paddling has been at mid-season form in the season's first week.

That said, who would have predicted that Elvis Andrus would be the team co-leader in home runs after a week of the season? Who had Neal Cotts as the first guy to blow a game in the 'pen this year? Who thought Prince Fielder would be little more than dead weight in his first few forays as a Ranger? Probably the same people who predicted Nick Martinez would be the first Ranger to toss a quality start or that Seth Rosin would be the team's win co-leader.

I guess the point is, the first week of baseball shows that so little matters in the micro of baseball that the only thing that matters is the macro. For the Rangers, after a week, the macro has been fine even if the micro is still a work in progress.

Now the team heads for Boston. That's as good a place to start the second week of the season as any. While it's not perfect that an imperfect Rangers team faces the defending champion Red Sox, it's a measuring stick that a pitcher like Tanner Scheppers might need. Or maybe the Rangers need to see what a guy like Robbie Ross can do against a good team as they evaluate the healing rotation going forward. Sure, you'd like to face the Astros every night until everyone is back healthy, but I bet the Rangers are excited to see what Martin Perez can do against the Champs at Fenway. I know I am.

Ron Washington, when talking about his inexperienced starters getting a taste of the Fenway spotlight, added another Washism to his ever-expanding list of notable quotes:

"I hope this is a stage they relish," Washington said. "I still get butterflies when I go into Boston. As long as they don’t turn into moths, we will be fine."

Don't go into that light, young moths. It could be a bug zapper.

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the new New York Yankees of baseball:

  • Tanner Scheppers: 0-0, 4.50 K/9, 6.75 BB/9, .412 BABIP, 41.7% LOB, 7.60 FIP, 6.21 xFIP, -0.1 WAR
  • John Lackey: 1-0, 9.00 K/9, 1.50 BB/9, .143 BABIP, 76.9% LOB, 3.77 FIP, 3.25 xFIP, 0.1 WAR

Thoughts: Where is Ian Kinsler to piss off John Lackey when you need him? One of the more startling things about postseason last year was seeing a reborn and svelte John Lackey pitching like a legit difference-maker again. The Red Sox probably don't win the World Series without John Lackey. That's too strange for me.

There's really nowhere to go but up for Tanner Scheppers after a disaster on Opening Day. Unless it is to go to the bullpen where he probably belongs. But for now, that's not an option so hopefully this game goes better for him when he's not encumbered with a case of Cliff Lee is going to laugh at me on Opening Day nerves.

  • Martin Perez: 0-0, 11.12 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, .438 BABIP, 71.4% LOB, 0.63 FIP, 1.07 xFIP, 0.3 WAR
  • Felix Doubront: 1-0, 6.75 K/9, 1.69 BB/9, .353 BABIP, 57.1% LOB, 2.16 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 0.2 WAR

Thoughts: 'Teen has never pitched at Boston and that's a big deal because Fenway is old and oozing with baseball tradition and young players' buttholes pucker at the looming visage of the Monster because Carl Yastrzemski played out there and Manny Ramirez peed out there and it's only like 20 feet from the mound. Then again, when Perez was born, Mike Greenwell was the Red Sox left fielder so maybe all of this is lost on him and he'll just go out there and pitch.

For a team as broad and nationally known as a franchise that has calls its fans "Red Sox Nation", it seems like Felix Doubront has been around forever while being entirely anonymous. He's like the sixth man on the San Antonio Spurs or a New England Patriot second receiver. He's been on the most famous team around while coming and going from the rotation for the last four years. What if they show Felix Doubront and it's Alexi Ogando wearing a Red Sox cap and throwing left-handed?

  • Robbie Ross Jr.: 0-0, 12.62 K/9, 3.60 BB/9, .429 BABIP, 79.0% LOB, 4.10 FIP, 2.49 xFIP, 0.0 WAR
  • Jake Peavy: 0-0, 6.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, .263 BABIP, 90.9% LOB, 4.93 FIP, 5.04 xFIP, 0.1 WAR

Thoughts: Jake Peavy was the Chicago starter that I wanted at the trade deadline last season. And just look at the Red Sox now. They won the World Series and only gave up a crippled Jose Iglesias. The Matt Garza trade strikes again.

Fun with first week stats: Robbie Ross' K/9 rate is way, way better than Yu Darvish's K/9 rate. Robbie Ross for 2014 Cy Young!

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Boston Red Sox 2-4 (Last season: 97-65, 1st Place in AL East)

Rangers' 2013 Record vs. Boston: 4-2

Boston's Recent Results: Swept at home 0-3 by the Milwaukee Brewers

Boston's Home Record: 0-3

Fenway Park 2013 Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 75/109 - Runs: 101/111

SB Nation Red Sox Blog: Over the Monster

Match-up: (as of 04/07) Rangers Red Sox Advantage
Batting (RAR) -3.9 (20th) -3.3 (19th) If only Papi had reached free agency last year
Base Running (RAR) 0.0 (17th) -1.0 (30th) Can Prince score from second on a ball off the Monster?
Starters (RAR) 2.1 3.2 Still can't believe the Sox won a title with that rotation
Bullpen (RAR) -0.6 (23rd) 8.9 (1st) Koji's on an all-time run
Defense (UZR) No UZR data yet No UZR data yet Is Leonys a top-5 defensive CF?
Overall (UZR + RAR) Doesn't matter yet Doesn't matter yet I predict the Rangers win 2 of 3

Questions to Answer:

  • Yea or Nay: Tanner Scheppers goes six or more innings tonight?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Based Beltre bullies the Boston Monster on his birthday.)
  • Over/Under: 2.5 home runs hit by the Rangers in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Robbie Ross Jr. in his second big league start?
  • Do you still miss Mike Napoli?
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