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Thoughts on a 7-2 Rangers loss

Astros 7, Rangers 2

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Astros 7, Rangers 2

  • That was rough.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Kohei Arihara got knocked around.
  • Arihara, in his third outing since being activated from the injured list, looked a lot like the pitcher who got hammered in April and May of this year, before he landed on the i.l. Four innings pitched, six runs, eight hits, two home runs allowed, just six swinging strikes. Arihara was pulled in the top of the fifth, having given up a single, an HBP, and a double, retiring no one in the inning.
  • The numbers for Arihara on the year are terrible, no matter how you look at them. He has a 6.64 ERA. He has a 6.76 FIP. The Statcast expected numbers are even worse — an 8.07 xERA and a .412 xwOBA. Arihara has faced 178 batters on the season and allowed 11 home runs. He has struck out only 24.
  • There’s a lot of talk about all the pitches Arihara throws, and that’s great — having seven pitches gives you a broad arsenal to use, even if it sometimes creates game calling problems, as in the fourth, when Arihara and catcher Jonah Heim repeatedly had issues with the pitch calling and getting on the same page as to what pitch was to be thrown, to the point that there were some boos from the home crowd after Arihara stepped off the mound at one point.
  • But lots of pitches are only useful if you can use them effectively and get batters out with them. Astros hitters had balls in play with 100+ mph exit velocities against four of Arihara’s seven pitches. His curveball he threw three times — two balls and a 97.7 mph exit velocity BIP. His cutter was thrown once, and he gave up a 98.3 mph exit velocity BIP on it.
  • The reports when the Rangers signed Arihara to a two year deal despite a track record in Japan that suggested he would struggle in the States indicated that the team felt they could work with Arihara and refine some of his pitches in order to make him more effective here. That has apparently not worked out.
  • With the upcoming 40 man roster crunch this offseason, I expect the Rangers to waive Arihara sometime over the winter. Arihara is owed $3.6 million for 2022, so I don’t expect anyone to claim him, meaning that Arihara would be outrighted. He’d stay in the Rangers’ system — barring a mutual decision by team and player to release him from his contract and allow him to return to Japan — but wouldn’t be on the 40 man roster, and would likely spend the 2022 season toiling in AAA, while the Rangers see if any improvements appear or if they are in dire enough straits at some point during the year to bring him back up.
  • Things went fine the rest of the way for the pitchers, at least. Dennis Santana came into a two on, no one out situation in the fifth and retired the side, keeping the Astros from scoring any more runs. Dane Dunning went two innings and 43 pitches as he continues his return from the COVID-19 list, allowing a run on a solo Kyle Tucker home run, allowing three singles, striking out four, and getting 7 swinging strikes in 43 pitches, which is good. Spencer Patton and Drew Anderson retired three batters apiece to finish out the game.
  • The Rangers bats did very little, picking up a whopping four hits on the day. One came in the bottom of the third, when it theoretically was still a game — Brock Holt sent a blast to the wall in right center, causing Kyle Tucker to run face-first into the wall with a collision that was loud enough, and audible enough on the broadcast, that it is kind of amazing that he was not injured. Holt then scored on a Yonny Hernandez groundout.
  • The only thing resembling a scoring opportunity otherwise, until the ninth, was Leody Taveras walking to lead off the game, stealing second, advancing to third on a bad throw, and then getting stranded there, and Nathaniel Lowe singling to lead off the seventh, going to second on a ground out, and then getting stranded there.
  • The Rangers got a pity run in the ninth, when Willie Calhoun doubled to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a one out wild pitch, and then scored on a Nathaniel Lowe ground out. Calhoun had two of the Rangers’ four hits on the day in his first game back from the injured list, so that’s good.
  • Kohei Arihara’s four seamer topped out at 92.9 mph and averaged 91.5 mph, while his two seamer hit 91.8 mph and averaged 89.9 mph. Dane Dunning’s two seamer maxed out at 92.6 mph, and averaged 91.3 mph. Dennis Santana touched 97.0 mph. Spencer Patton hit 94.7 mph with his four seamer. Drew Anderson hit 93.9 mph.
  • It wasn’t a great day for Ranger exit velocities. Nick Solak and Nathaniel Lowe had lineouts of 108.5 mph and 106.0 mph, respectively. Willie Calhoun’s ninth inning double was 103.5 mph (and his single was 94.2 mph). DJ Peters had groundouts of 102.2 mph and 99.6 mph.
  • The final game of the Silver Boot Series is tonight. Finishing the season matchup against the Astros with a W would be nice.