Rangers 2, Angels 1
- Very quietly, Nick Tepesch has had a very solid season. After his outing today -- 7 IP, 1 run, 4 hits, 3 Ks, and 2 walks (both intentional), Tepesch is now sporting a 4.14 ERA on the year in 121.1 IP. Remember, this is a guy who started the season in AAA, when the Rangers' Opening Day rotation was Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Joe Saunders, Nick Martinez, and...geez, I don't even remember who else at this point. Sidney Ponson? Pedro Astacio? Tony Mounce? Mario Ramos? Brian Sikorski? Kip Wells? James Baldwin? Mike Ballard? Sam Narron? Anyway...Tepesch spent all of last season on the major league roster (though he logged some minor leagues innings, he was on a rehab assignment, and got credit in 2013 for a full season of major league service), but was so unimpressive this spring that he was behind all those other guys and was sent to AAA. Tepesch is what he is, a back-end starter who is going to have trouble with the lineup the third time through, but I think he's shown enough this year that he deserves to be penciled into the rotation for 2015.
- Michael Kirkman and Shawn Tolleson pitched the 8th inning. Kirkman fanned the one batter he faced. Its an interesting situation for Kirkman, who was added to the 40 man roster in September, to get one last audition for the Rangers before becoming a free agent. He's been re-cast as a lefty specialist, and had a lot of success in the minors in that role. In another year, I could see Kirkman sticking around and getting a look in spring training...but with 8 players having to be dropped in order to bring guys on the 60 day d.l. back on the 40 man roster once the World Series is over, even before adding Luke Jackson and Jorge Alfaro or dealing with potential free agent or trade additions, I just can't imagine that Texas will devote a 40 man roster spot to him this offseason. More likely, the Rangers will waive him, then try to bring him back on a minor league deal, if he's done enough in September to keep them interested in him.
- Neftali Feliz. 12 pitches today. 10 strikes. He fanned the side, and was throwing 95-97 mph while doing so. There were people writing off Feliz earlier this year, declaring him broken, ignoring the fact that he had Tommy John surgery in August, 2012, and that it sometimes takes longer than the usual 12-18 months for a pitcher to recover. The Rangers' patience with Feliz has paid off, as over the last month or so, Feliz has looked like the Feliz of old. If this is the guy who shows up for spring training in 2015, the Rangers don't have to wonder about who their closer next year will be.
- The Rangers had 9 hits today. 6 of them came from rookies -- Luis Sardinas had two hits, Tomas Telis had two hits, and Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski each had a hit. Rua had his first major league home run -- a game winner in the top of the 9th -- and Telis drew his first major league walk. In a season that has turned into playing for the future and giving young players a chance, this was a bright spot. Adam Rosales seems like a great guy, and J.P. Arencibia is fun, but I'd rather see the Rangers win because the rookies are doing things, rather than guys like Rosales and Arencibia.
- Man...I've been saying for some time that I can't wait for this season to be over. And because the Rangers have to vex me, they are now playing fun baseball, with some young intriguing players, and they've captivated me again. In fact, they've got me excited about baseball again...just in time to be bummed out when the season ends, a week from today.
- But there's reasons to feel good about 2015. And we saw several of those reasons today.