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Thoughts on a 4-3 Rangers loss

Astros 4, Rangers 3

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Astros 4, Rangers 3

  • This is what a .500 team looks like.
  • I mean, there’s all sorts of .500 teams, who get there in different ways, but this is the overall vibe, I think. A team that plays well enough often enough to lament the missed chances and lost opportunities, but that isn’t good enough not to have a good number of missed chances and lost opportunities.
  • This isn’t a bad team. It isn’t a good team. It is, as of now, a middle of the road team, a team that could be in the playoff race with some breaks and some breakouts, or that could be well out of the race by mid-August if things go the other way.
  • On Monday, the Rangers won a game that the Astros should have probably won, all things considered. On Tuesday, the Astros won a game that the Rangers should have probably won, all things considered. Thus does the universe stay in balance.
  • With this loss, the Rangers dropped to 3-11 on the season in one run games, which goes a long way towards explaining why the Rangers are 29-32 despite a positive run differential (if a small positive run differential — just +5). I don’t think that particular record says anything meaningful about the Rangers, though if one wants to create a narrative to support a belief they already hold one could say that the Rangers are a young team still learning how to win, or that this is indicative of poor managing, or that the Rangers are chokers.
  • The Rangers last three wins were by two runs, and all three of those games felt like one run games, by the nature of how they played out. So I’m not going to read anything into the one run record at this point.
  • The Rangers have moves coming up that they will need to make with the bullpen. Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez will be back in the next week or so, one would expect, and unless MLB punts the deadline again — which isn’t out of the question — teams will be capped at a thirteen man pitching staff as of Monday, June 30. If one looks at the pen the Rangers were carrying before COVID hit and the team had to do shuffling there, if three players were to be dropped to get under the limit and add Hernandez and Leclerc, Kolby Allard would seem to be one easy choice. A week or so ago, the other two players who seemed likely to be sent down, due to a combination of options and performance, were Brett Martin and John King.
  • John King has made the case for keeping him in the majors that much more difficult after allowing big crooked numbers in two of his last three games. He’s a groundball pitcher who relies on command for success, and his command has been hit-and-miss for much of the season, resulting in a higher walk rate than usual. He’ll likely get to work on that in Round Rock for a while, beginning sometime this month.
  • King hung a slider to Kyle Tucker that Tucker hit to the moon, the definitive play of the game. It was an awful pitch. He also got ground balls from the three previous batters. One was a seeing-eye single in the hole. One was a tailor-made doubleplay ball that Corey Seager went home with instead of going for the DP — a decision that I disagree with, but that I understand Seager making — that resulted in a botched rundown, a run scoring and no outs recorded. One was a weak grounder by Yordan Alvarez that would have been either the final out of the inning, had Seager opted not to throw home, or an inning-ending GIDP, had the Rangers executed the rundown.
  • But that isn’t the reality we live in, at least this version of ourselves. The reality we live in is that a veteran infielder made a questionable decision, a pair of rookies didn’t execute a rundown, and a struggling reliever hung a breaking ball to a really good hitter.
  • Those are the things that make a .500 team a .500 team, rather than a playoff contending team. Those are the sorts things that the Rangers have to do better in taking that next step.
  • Dane Dunning topped out at 89.4 mph with his sinker and averaged 88.2 mph. That’s a bit concerning. Matt Bush hit 98.5 mph with his fastball. John King’s sinker touched 92.6 mph. Dennis Santana reached 98.7 mph on his sinker. Garrett Richards hit 95.6 mph on his fastball.
  • Corey Seager had a double with an exit velocity of 110.1 mph. His eighth inning GIDP was 102.3 mph. Adolis Garcia had a single at 109.4 mph and a fly out at 100.4 mph. Nathaniel Lowe’s home run had an exit velocity of 103.9 mph, and his single was 103.3 mph. Sam Huff had a 105.0 mph groundout. Kole Calhoun had a 101.1 mph single and a 101.9 mph ground out.
  • The Rangers will be sending out To Be Determined for the rubber match. That’s always fun.