Series Preview: Boston Red Sox @ Texas Rangers - .500 Wars

Gross! A spider! - Jim Rogash

Boston comes to Arlington for the only time this season and already the Rangers play the Red Sox for the last time in 2014

Series Schedule:

Friday, May 09 7:05: RHP Clay Buchholz vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Saturday, May 10 7:05: LHP Jon Lester vs. LHP Martin Perez

Sunday, May 11 2:05: RHP John Lackey vs. LHP Robbie Ross Jr.

Our prayers have been answered. The Baseball Gods have finally released the Rangers from the death grip of the Colorado Rockies. The Rangers' reward for persevering through that rocky mountain low is a date with the defending champions of baseball. For the first and last time in Arlington, the Red Sox come to Texas for a three game set at The Ballpark.

In fact, through the magic of the unbalanced schedule, after this weekend, the Rangers and Red Sox are finished playing baseball for the 2014 season. It's barely May, the Rangers haven't even played half the American League yet, and they're done with the Red Sox after this series. Strange.

Also strange is the fact that both of these teams are hovering around .500. The Rangers of this decade are in the unfamiliar position of being in third place in the West and the Red Sox of three World Series wins in the last ten years are in fourth place in the American League East a week into the season's second month. So maybe it's a good time for a Red Sox send off for the 2014 season. The Rangers catch the Red Sox at their lowest point before their annual climb to the postseason.

Hopefully we've also seen the Rangers' lowest point to the 2014 season. I'm not one to tempt fate but when the team that won the World Series a few months ago is a welcome reprieve from the Colorado Rockies, things have ventured into the category of grim. But the getting pummeled by the Rockies days were a different time. It was a different era back then. Those were the dark days before Rougned Odor was a Ranger. The Rangers in the Rougned Odor era only win.

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against America's favorite bandwagon:

  • Yu Darvish: 2-1, 10.04 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, .324 BABIP, 82.6% LOB, 2.93 FIP, 3.53 xFIP, 1.1 WAR - Last three starts: 10 runs allowed in 15.1 innings
  • Clay Buchholz: 2-2, 6.75 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, .345 BABIP, 62.5% LOB, 4.15 FIP, 4.17 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three starts: 10 runs allowed in 15.2 innings

Thoughts: Yu Darvish didn't get murdered by the Anaheim Angels last time out so it has been proven that the Oakland A's are comprised by a bunch of men who mind-read in Japanese. It looked scary at first, though. Darvish gave up two long solo home runs in the 1st inning against the Angels, and wiggled out of a 2nd inning jam, before transforming back into the K machine Darvish that we know and love. And now Darvish has his K/9 rate up above 10 for the first time all season. Since the A's aren't on the schedule again until mid-June, I expect good things from Darvish.

I'm watching you, Clay Buchholz. One too-liberal application of BullFrog Sunscreen on an overcast day on your sweaty forearms and I'm going to take to Twitter to call you and yours the hypocrites ruining the secret and sacred art of cheating that you are. I will go HAM on you, Clay Buchholz. I know it's hot in Texas but your greasy wet hair isn't fooling me. Somebody check the stitches on the ball right now.

  • Martin Perez: 4-2, 5.85 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, .287 BABIP, 69.6% LOB, 3.27 FIP, 3.59 xFIP, 1.1 WAR - Last three starts: 13 runs allowed in 18.2 innings
  • Jon Lester: 3-4, 10.73 K/9, 1.85 BB/9, .328 BABIP, 65.6% LOB, 2.12 FIP, 2.58 xFIP, 1.9 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 19.2 innings

Thoughts: Hey look, it's 2009's Jon Lester. What are you doing in 2014? While you're here busying yourself with embarrassing the Ranger offense, could you maybe stop and talk to Martin Perez about being a rad American League pitcher? Nolan Ryan once took Randy Johnson under his wing. It's not unprecedented. Help a lefty out.

The A's and Rockies got real sick and tired of hearing about Martin Perez, I reckon. After that fun shutout streak that Perez had going, he's been blasted by two of the better offenses in baseball the last two times out. The Red Sox aren't among the best offenses in baseball, and Perez has already pitched well against them in a game at Fenway back in April, so it would be a disappointment if Perez didn't turn things around and get back to putting some zeros on the board. No one is demanding a CGSO or anything but a solid start would be nice.

  • Robbie Ross Jr.: 1-3, 6.87 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, .357 BABIP, 61.3% LOB, 4.19 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three starts: 14 runs allowed in 14.2 innings
  • John Lackey: 4-2, 8.41 K/9, 2.15 BB/9, .311 BABIP, 74.0% LOB, 3.35 FIP, 3.38 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 22.0 innings

Thoughts: You see what happens when you trade Ian Kinsler? John Lackey is left to run amok. Disgusting. Back on April 7, Lackey went seven innings of scoreless ball against the Rangers in a Red Sox win. Were Kinsler still a Ranger, that never would have been allowed. Time for Roogie Odor to get ornery.

With Nick Tepesch dealing at Triple-A Round Rock, and the bullpen already in concerning over-usage dire straits, the Ross Jr. rotation experiment might be coming to a close fairly soon. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this were Robbie's last start before heading back to the bullpen where he probably belongs for now. It's not that rotation member Robbie Ross has been horrible or anything. I'd imagine there were some years the Rangers would have killed for a young pitcher to make this transition and pitch as Robbie has. But, simply, he hasn't been good enough and there are better options and places he is better suited on the team at the moment.

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Boston Red Sox (17-17, 4th Place in AL East)

Rangers' 2014 Record vs. Boston: 1-2 (All at Fenway)

Boston's Recent Results: 2-0 two-game interleague home sweep of the Cincinnati Reds

Boston's Road Record: 7-6

Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 105/96 - Runs: 111/109

SB Nation Red Sox Blog: Over the Monster

Match-up: (as of 05/09) Rangers Red Sox Advantage
Batting (RAR) -11.4 (19th) -0.7 (14th) This ain't your 1999 Red Sox vs Rangers
Base Running (RAR) 4.2 (2nd) -8.1 (30th) Maybe Ian Kinsler was the problem
Starters (RAR) 23.8 29.2 This is closer than I figured it would be
Bullpen (RAR)

9.4 (9th)

21.8 (1st) History won't even remember that Koji was a Ranger
Defense (UZR) -6.1 (23rd) -3.5 (19th) Real sloppy like
Overall (UZR + RAR) 19.9 38.7

Advantage: Playoff hockey!

Questions to Answer:

  • Will The Ballpark crowd get a solid Nap-O-Li chant going to remember the good times?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Roogie Odor begins his ascent to Dustin Pedroia's spot as the AL's top second baseman.)
  • Over/Under: 3.5 double plays turned by Elvis and Roogie in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Yu Darvish tonight in his first home start since that disaster against Oakland on April 28?
  • Yea or Nay: The Rangers finish the 2014 slate against the Red Sox with a series win?
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