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Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays - Canada's Best

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Look at how happy everyone is in Canada
Look at how happy everyone is in Canada

We're having fun here, no?

Recently there's been a lot of discussion on the level of fun that we're having in this baseball season in regards to the expectations and overall happiness with the level of play by the Rangers. As I mentioned the other day, Joey Matschulat wrote about this a little at BBTIA. Yesterday, Anthony Andro broached the subject. Richard Durrett has written about it several times this season. I've seen David Murphy or Michael Young tell fans not to worry in Fox Sports Southwest interviews for what seems like dozens of times so far this season. Not a GDT goes by without a couple of "Worst good team ever!" comments.

Even with hashing it out with fellow Lone Star Ballers, I still haven't been able to pinpoint this feeling. Personally, I'm enjoying this season as much as I did the 2011 season. For me, there's no reason not to. Up to this point in the season, it is arguable that this is the best the Rangers have ever been. But I think there's a lot of angst and worry about October.

I think we all know this Rangers team is good. I think we all know this Rangers team will more than likely play playoff baseball games. But I think some of the joylessness comes from the anxiety that the flaws we've seen from the team this season will doom them in October. There's no Cliff Lee. There will be no October Colby Lewis. The offense goes quiet too often. Josh Hamilton is good only if his mind, body, and spirit are cooperating at the same time. The Michael Young situation. Oh that darn Michael Young situation. This is not The Year of the Napoli.

I realize the investment we are giving this team right now is different than the one we were giving the 2010 team or even the 2011 team. We're giving baseball 200 nights of our life and--I think for most fans--only another long run in the postseason will be a positive return on that investment. For some, only winning it all will be enough.

We were once Pirates fans. In Pittsburgh, right now, they would kill for a play-in Wild Card game. They've waited decades to just be this close to meaningful baseball games again. But for us, we've done that already. We were there in 2009 when the Rangers were close and we enjoyed that feeling of being in the race. We were there in 2010 when we finally got more of a taste than we ever could have dreamed of. We were there in 2011 when the World Series championship that seemed so far-fetched for the majority of our lives was one strike away. Twice. Ultimately, though a painful end to each, those seasons rewarded us for investing as fans.

Baseball is a large investment. When your team is good, it demands that you watch. If the Rangers were the Toronto Blue Jays, you could take a night off. But seasons like this are why we invested in the lean years. Even if we took a couple of nights off in 2002, we came back the next night for baseball. We did that because we knew one day there would be seasons like 2009, 2010 or 2011. Or, yes, even 2012.

Friday, August 17 6:07: LHP J.A. Happ vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Saturday, August 18 12:07: RHP Carlos Villanueva vs. RHP Ryan Dempster RHP Roy Oswalt

Sunday, August 19 12:07: RHP Henderson Alvarez vs. LHP Matt Harrison

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against Joey Kirby's Toronto Blue Jays:

  • Yu Darvish: 12-8, 10.36 K/9, 5.05 BB/9, .314 BABIP, 70.1% LOB, 3.78 FIP, 3.90 xFIP, 2.8 WAR - Last three starts: 16 runs allowed in 18.1 innings
  • J.A. Happ: 8-10, 8.46 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, .316 BABIP, 71.0% LOB, 4.39 FIP, 4.02 xFIP, 0.9 WAR - Last three appearances: 9 runs allowed in 12.0 innings

Advantage: Yu Darvish looking to put together consecutive solid outings for the first time since June over J.A. Happ looking to put together a solid outing.

  • Ryan Dempster: 6-6, 7.34 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, .260 BABIP, 77.1% LOB, 3.81 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 2.2 WAR - Last three starts: 16 runs allowed in 17.1 innings It's Roy Oswalt, everybody!
  • Carlos Villanueva: 6-2, 9.60 K/9, 3.90 BB/9, .276 BABIP, 83.3% LOB, 3.99 FIP, 3.84 xFIP, 0.9 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 19.0 innings

Advantage: Ryan Dempster not making excuses over Carlos Villanueva not making very many career starts over Ryan Dempster isn't pitching and is now Roy Oswalt.

  • Matt Harrison: 13-7, 5.24 K/9, 2.65 BB/9, .292 BABIP, 78.2% LOB, 3.85 FIP, 4.25 xFIP, 3.0 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 17.2 innings
  • Henderson Alvarez: 7-10, 3.34 K/9, 2.40 BB/9, .289 BABIP, 71.4% LOB, 5.13 FIP, 4.52 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 16.2 innings

Advantage: Matt Harrison in The Girl Who Cried Monster over Henderson Alvarez and the battle of the low K/9 rates. Also, is Alvarez still in line to win more games than Yu Darvish over the next five years?


Toronto Blue Jays (55-63, 5th Place AL East)

Rangers Record vs. Toronto: 2-4 (2-1 at Rogers)

Toronto's Recent Results: 1-3 series loss against the Chicago White Sox

Toronto's Home Record: 30-28

Rogers Centre Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 105/117 - Runs: 100/110

SB Nation Blue Jays Blog: Bluebird Banter

Match-up: (as of 08/17) Rangers Blue Jays Advantage
Batting (RAR) 50.4 (4th) 10.6 (11th) Rangers
Base Running (RAR) 2.2 (12th) 5.2 (4th) Blue Jays
Starters (RAR) 58.4 22.3 Rangers
Bullpen (RAR) 38.3 (6th) 13.3 (21st) Rangers
Defense (UZR) 16.4 (8th) -6.3 (19th) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 165.7 45.1 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • Would it still count if Captain America Mike Olt hits his first big league home run in Canada?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I'm mostly willing Adrian Beltre to go on a tear.)
  • Over/Under: 4.5 walks allowed by Yu Darvish in his start tonight?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Ryan Dempster Roy Oswalt, I guess, against a Blue Jays team that hits pretty well at home?
  • In five years, how many wins do you think Henderson Alvarez has?