It's hard to believe that the Rangers were division champions just two years ago. They seem like they've been in decline for a while, but it's really just been one year. They went 78-84 last year, and are currently on pace for just 74 wins in 2018. They have no .300 hitters, though there are a smattering of .270-.280s in the mix, and their active starting rotation has a cumulative ERA over 5.50 and includes Yovanni Gallardo. This is not a tough squad.
But neither are the Blue Jays, and the M's just dropped three of four to them, so don't get cocky. The Mariners are just 5-4 against the Rangers going into this series, including 1-2 in their first visit to the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex this year. Still, this is a team the M's should beat, and anything less than two wins in the three games will be a disappointment, to say the least.
Texas is scheduled to throw Martín Pérez, Bartolo Colón, and Gallardo in the series. Colón in particular has been around a long time, so his career numbers are scary, but since 2016, current Mariners have hit each of them reasonably well—.293 vs. Pérez, .246 vs. Colón, .269 vs. Gallardo—while the reverse is even more favorable; Seattle's scheduled starters are Wade LeBlanc, Felix Hernández, and Marco Gonzales—LeBlanc has held the current Rangers roster to a collective .211 average in that span, Felix .222. Marco wasn't as lucky in '16 and '17 (.286), but this year has kept them to .200. Felix should watch out against certain batters, though—Shin-soo Choo (.313), Nomar Mazara (.333), and Joey Gallo (.308) have had his number.
|Martín Pérez (2016-18)
|Bartolo Colón (2016-18)
|Yovanni Gallardo (2016-18)
Players to Watch
Adrian Beltre: The former Mariners third baseman joined the 3,000-hit club last year on his way to a certain election to the Hall of Fame when he hits his first ballot. He had what had to have been the most frustrating season of his career last year when he spent more than two months on the disabled list; at 39, Beltre may not have many more seasons to play, but he'll give it his all as long as he can.
Bartolo Colón: At 45 years old, Colón is the oldest active player in the Majors and is somehow still pitching like an ace. At least, an ace by Rangers standards; his 5.18 ERA is nothing to crow about and he's served up the third-most homers in the league. He does have outstanding control, though, and has walked just 1.67 batters per nine innings.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa: The pride of Honolulu, Kiner-Falefa has been a solid contributor for Texas in his rookie season. He's logged most of his innings at third base, but he can catch, too, making him extra valuable to a big-league bench. He's been a lot more successful against left-handers—.291/.378/.468 vs. .261/.314/.351 against righties—and has been on a tear since June 10th, raising his average from .239 then to .270 entering this August 6-8 series.
Jeff Banister: After taking the Rangers to the playoffs in his first two years as a big-league manager, Banister saw how the other half lives last season. Losing Adrian Beltre for much of the year and poor campaigns from Rougned Odor, Mike Napoli, Joey Gallo, and others consigned the team to mediocrity no matter how well Banister did his job. Three seasons might be too small a sample size to declare him one of the game's better managers, but having won AL Manager of the Year in 2015—without having had any managerial experience at any level before that—and been runner-up for the award the next year, it's possible this guy actually knows what he's doing.
Shin-soo Choo: If you blinked, you missed him, but Choo was once a Mariner. In fact, he debuted here—the Mariners signed him as an 18-year-old out of South Korea in 2000, then after working his way up the minor-league ladder played 14 games with Seattle in 2005-06. This was the Bill Bavasi era, so what do you think happened with this promising young star-in-the-making from the far east? That's right, Bavasi traded him for magic beans (in the form of first baseman/DH Ben Broussard, who hit .260/.311/.413 in a year-and-a-half with the M's and retired in 2008). Isolating which one of Bavasi's trades and signings was the worst is an exercise in futility (there were so many awful deals) but this one has got to be near the top, especially if you view it in tandem with a separate trade Bavasi made with the same team a few weeks earlier, sending a different future All-Star, Asdrubal Cabrera, for a different aging first baseman/DH (Eduardo Pérez) that would retire even before Broussard did. Choo and Cabrera went on to play 2,900 Major League games (and counting) between them, bat .274, hit 346 homers, score 1,538 times, drive in 1,385 runs, and play in six postseasons.
|Texas Rangers||(1972 - present)|
|League Champions:||2010, 2011|
|Division Titles:||1996, 1998, 1999, 2015, 2016|