Ranger Rundown: June 30, 2017

Date: June 30, 2017
Next game: 78/162, Cleveland Indians

Team Record: 39-39, 3rd AL West
Personal Power Ranking: 15

Since the last publication almost four weeks ago, the Rangers have played at 13-8 pace to find themselves hovering around .500. It’s was hard to imagine Texas returning to this form a that time, but here they are.

LAST WEEK

The Rangers haven’t lost a series since being blasted by Houston at home in the first week of the season. Series victories over Washington, Houston, Seattle, NY Yankees, and splits with NY Mets and Toronto have the Rangers on the right track during the month of June.

Last time I wrote, the big question was- ‘Can this team return to playing .500 baseball?’ Texas answered in a big way, with huge series at Washington and Houston. Since then, things have leveled out.

THE BULLPEN

The bullpen has been questionable all season, and de facto Closer Matt Bush’s decline (0-3, 7.00 ERA, 2 BS) is a testament to that. However, relievers Alex Claudio, Jose Leclerc, Keon Kela and Dario Alvarez have an impressive combined 2.73 ERA have established them as integral bullpen pieces moving forward.

When Jake Deikman and Jeremy Jeffress return, it might be time to move on from RHP Tony Barnette. His 7.23 ERA is tough to look at, and Diekman’s left-handed arm will warrant much more value for Texas as the team looks to contend.

Sam Dyson’s departure has left the bullpen in better shape, and once completely healthy, could see the Rangers bullpen emerge as one of the best in baseball.

THIS WEEK

The Rangers finish the series with Cleveland on Thursday. A win insures a series split, which would mean only the Houston series was a loss on the Month. The team then heads to Chicago for a weekend tilt with the White Sox, and hosts Boston for a three-game set starting on Independence Day.

MOVING FORWARD

As the all star break approaches, one big question emerges- who will represent the Rangers in Miami? Each team is guaranteed at least one representative. With no Ranger anywhere near contention for the starting lineup, I predict that two Rangers will represent the American League as reserves- Elvis Andrus and Yu Darvish, Andrus has developed into one of the best All-around shortstops in the American League, recording a .301/.348/.471 and a career-best 10 home runs already. Darvish’s record of 6-6 is unimpressive, but a 3.11 ERA is among the best in the American League. Run support has been Darvish’s main issue, but his unempircal ‘stuff’ has been sharp as ever, Adrian Beltre has played like an All-Star since his return, but likely will not have a large enough work sample to garner an All-Star nod.

The Rangers are finally getting healthy. When Martin Perez returns next year, the Rangers will finally feature the rotation they envisioned in the offseason- Hamels, Darvish, Ross, Cashner, and Perez. AJ Griffin will likely move to the bullpen, with Nick Martinez and Austin Bibens-Dirkx likely heading down to AAA to make room. Reliever Jake Diekman also will return following the All-Star break, a move that could buouy the bullpen.

Completely healthy, the Rangers staff will be a force to be reckoned with moving down the stretch. The offense is certainly not concerning; the team is averaging 4.2 runs per game down the stretch in June.

With the calendar turning to July, trade talks are heating up. If the Rangers find themselves at or above .500, they should certainly look to buy at the deadline. A big bat who could buoy the lineup would be nice, but a reliable reliever is much more necessary.

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