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Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Cleveland Indians - Almost Fall

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A month from now the Rangers will begin playing their final series of the 2012 regular season. Maybe they'll still be battling for the best record in baseball. Maybe the fight for best record in the American League will still be going down to the approaching wire. Maybe, heaven forbid, that final series with the Oakland A's will be meaningful to the A.L. West race. Whatever the case, this time of the year is always exciting. Rosters expand tomorrow. Kids are back in school. The NFL season starts on Wednesday. These things as separate thoughts aren't terribly exciting. But together, as a whole, they say one thing; it's time for baseball to get serious. It's time for Pennant races.

The baseball season is awfully long, and it is summer that we most associated with the game, but it is fall that we have been waiting for as Texas Rangers fans. And the precursor to fall baseball begins today as the sun of summer is setting. For the Rangers, today marks the final long road trip of the season. Ten games against Cleveland, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay at their parks. Afterward the Rangers will return home and play three more against Cleveland as the final series of the season against non-A.L. West opponents.

Just writing these kinds of things is exciting to me because it means we're getting so close to October baseball. After today--the final game of summer's final month--we'll have watched 130 games of 2012 Texas Rangers baseball. With only 32 more games to go, it's easy to begin to turn an eye toward postseason possibilities. Of note, after today, if the Rangers go .500 the rest of the way, they win 93 games. The Rangers could go .500 over this final month of baseball and still have the fourth best record in team history. I don't believe the Rangers will only go .500 over this final month. I believe the Rangers will threaten the best record in team history.

Friday, August 31 6:05: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez vs. RHP Ryan Dempster

Saturday, September 1 6:05: RHP Roberto Hernandez vs. RHP Scott Feldman

Sunday, September 2 12:05: RHP Zach McAllister vs. LHP Derek Holland

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the terrible Cleveland Indians:

  • Ryan Dempster: 8-6, 7.45 K/9, 2.46 BB/9, .263 BABIP, 78.4% LOB, 3.73 FIP, 3.82 xFIP, 2.5 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 20.0 innings
  • Ubaldo Jimenez: 9-13, 7.52 K/9, 4.91 BB/9, .321 BABIP, 70.9% LOB, 5.23 FIP, 4.90 xFIP, 0.1 WAR - Last three starts: 14 runs allowed in 14.2 innings

Advantage: Ryan Dempster secretly looked sort of terrible last Saturday to continue his streak of a bad start for every good start. Well, hopefully that means a good start is on the way over Ubaldo Jimenez has just been bad. Remember when the Indians traded basically everything they had for Ace Ubaldo Jimenez and instead got Ubaldo Jimenez with Yu Darvish's walk rate, Dempster K rate, and a 0.1 WAR? Yikes.

  • Scott Feldman: 6-10, 6.30 K/9, 2.16 BB/9, .314 BABIP, 60.7% LOB, 3.88 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, 1.8 WAR - Last three starts: 12 runs allowed in 16.2 innings
  • Roberto Hernandez: 0-3, 1.26 K/9, 1.88 BB/9, .250 BABIP, 39.0% LOB, 7.29 FIP, 5.40 xFIP, -0.3 WAR - Last three starts: 12 runs allowed in 14.1 innings

Advantage: This is one riveting American League baseball pitching match-up. If Scott Feldman's season trend of losing six games, winning six games, and losing six games hold, he should lose this game, however, a Fausto Carmona by any other name is still a Fausto Carmona and Roberto Hernandez has had three of the worst Scott Feldman-esque starts imaginable and has a three game losing streak of his own.

  • Derek Holland: 9-6, 7.25 K/9, 2.69 BB/9, .255 BABIP, 64.1% LOB, 4.76 FIP, 4.25 xFIP, 1.2 WAR - Last three starts: 10 runs allowed in 18.2 innings
  • Zach McAllister: 5-5, 8.30 K/9, 2.58 BB/9, .297 BABIP, 60.8% LOB, 3.77 FIP, 4.00 xFIP, 1.6 WAR - Last three starts: 10 runs allowed in 16.1 innings

Advantage: Statistically Zach McAllister is better than Derek Holland this season. That's depressing. However, Derek Holland seems to gain magical powers when pitching in his native Ohio. In Holland's last two starts at Cleveland, he has allowed only one run in 16 1/3 innings and that includes a complete game shutout.


Cleveland Indians (55-76, 4th Place AL Central)

Rangers Record vs. Cleveland: 1-2 (All at Progressive)

Cleveland's Recent Results: 0-4 home series sweep to the Oakland Athletics

Cleveland's Road Record: 31-35

Progressive Field Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 122/73 - Runs: 104/80

SB Nation Indians Blog: Let's Go Tribe

Match-up: (as of 08/31) Rangers Indians Advantage
Batting (RAR) 62.7 (4th) -13.2 (20th) Rangers
Base Running (RAR) 3.1 (12th) -7.0 (29th) Rangers
Starters (RAR) 52.5 16.7 Rangers
Bullpen (RAR) 48.8 (4th) 28.6 (14th) Rangers
Defense (UZR) 17.4 (8th) -31.6 (27th) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 184.5 -6.5 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • Will Manny Acta soon be the final 2007 Texas Rangers managerial candidate to fall before Ron Washington?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I figure Mitch Moreland will stay hot and lefties hit well at Progressive Field.)
  • Over/Under: 3.5 strikeouts collected by Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez in his start on Saturday?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Derek Holland in his element in Ohio?
  • Which September call-up will make the most stretch run impact for the Rangers? (Julio Borbon is gonna rake!)