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Thoughts on a 3-2 Rangers loss

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Angels 3, Rangers 2

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Angels 3, Rangers 2

  • The Angels had Garrett Richards going for them yesterday.  Texas had Wandy Rodriguez, signed a few weeks ago to a minor league deal, making his 2015 major league debut.  So I guess you could say we should chalk it up as a moral victory, that the Rangers had a lead late, and only lost by one.
  • Wandy Rodriguez looked like a #5 starter yesterday.  He went 5 innings, allowed 9 baserunners, and gave up some hard-hit balls.  He only allowed one run, though, and left the game with a lead.  Regardless of how you feel about Wandy, and whether he should be in the rotation, he did his job yesterday.
  • Also doing their jobs yesterday were Tanner Scheppers and Roman Mendez, who each pitched a scoreless inning.  That is more significant for Scheppers, who has been trying to work his way back into form after missing time this spring, and starting the season on the d.l., with a sprained ankle.  Scheppers gave up a double to C.J. Cron, but also fanned a pair while needing just 13 pitches (9 strikes) to get through his inning.  His last couple of outings, he's looked like the guy who was nails in the 8th inning for Texas in 2013.  Mendez, meanwhile, appears to have assumed the Mark Lowe Mantle as "guy who pitches the 8th inning on the road with the team down a run or two."  He struck out one, needed 10 pitches to retire three batters, and dropped his ERA down to 2.25.
  • And then there is Keone Kela.  Kela picked up his first major league blown save and first major league loss when David Freese took him deep with two outs in the 7th, turning a 2-1 Rangers lead into a 3-2 deficit.  The book on Kela coming into spring training was that he had terrific stuff, but needed to refine his command.  And that's pretty much what we've seen from him in the majors so far...great stuff, command that needs work.  Perhaps most surprising so far is that Kela has just a 6.6% swinging strike rate -- much lower than you'd expect from someone with his stuff.  Kela is also allowing a .375 BABIP on a 32% LD rate, suggesting that he's missing too often in the middle of the zone.  If the eye-test is telling you he's getting hit hard this year, that's because he is.
  • To put the 6.6% swinging strike rate in perspective, there were 88 starting pitchers in 2014 who had enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.  There were only five of them who had a lower swinging strike rate than 6.6%:  Travis Wood, Mark Buehrle, Doug Fister, Scott Feldman and Bartolo Colon.  That's not the company you want your fireballing future closer to be keeping.
  • Which isn't to say that its time to give up on Kela.  The stuff is there, he's learning how to get major league hitters out, and folks have confidence that he'll get there.  However, we probably want to tap the brakes on the "he's going to be the closer by the end of the season" talk.  And that's fine...Kela just turned 22 a week ago, and he came to camp viewed as having almost no shot of making the team.  The thought was that he'd start the season in Round Rock, and at some point mid-season, he'd be a consideration for the bullpen.  His strong spring performance accelerated the timetable, but the first few weeks of the season are showing why he's still a work in progress.  I think Kela is going to be a very good reliever, and is going to end up closing games for Texas down the road.  It just might not be this season.
  • Man, the offense was terrible yesterday.  Texas scored two runs on three hits.  Yeah, there were five walks, but still...three hits?  Two of those hits were by Prince Fielder, who has boosted his line to .375/.429/.484.  The other hit was by Elvis, who doubled off of Richards.  The offense is pretty motley right now.
  • Leonys Martin has been getting some criticism for his defense this season, but he had a terrific game in the field yesterday, making several nice plays in center to save hits.
  • I'm sitting here looking at the updated numbers for the Rangers in the box score last night.  11 Ranger position players got into the game.  Six of them are hitting below .200.  Delino DeShields is hitting .100.  Jake Smolinski is hitting .107.  Shin-Soo Choo is hitting .119.  That's really terrible.
  • Man, we need this offense to get going, or its going to be a long season.  I mean, it may be a long season anyway, but its really going to be a long season if no one besides Prince Fielder (and Mitch Moreland, who is off to a good start) hit.