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2022 Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Houston Astros

SB Nation logo SB Nation 8/9/2022 Juan Páez
© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Narrative

During the offseason, the Rangers spent more than $500 million to reassemble his infield with stars Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, besides adding starting pitcher Jon Gray and outfielder Kole Calhoun among others. But at least in 2022, they’re not quite yet where they want to be as they have a 48-60 and are pretty far away from a playoff berth.

The Rangers were in a better position in mid-July, but a 7-15 record since July 14 has buried their postseason hopes. And since they’ve lost eight out of 11 games against Houston this season, the fact that they’re facing the Astros in a three-game series from Tuesday to Thursday can’t come as good news.

Texas will still have some work to do this offseason to add something to its offense. Through Monday’s slate, there’s no one on the team with an .800 OPS or a .300 batting average. That’s something to think about. Although, the Rangers have the fourth-highest home run mark in the American League (133).

The Rangers haven’t had a positive month since their outstanding May (17-10). In fact, they own a 24-36 record since June 1.

Another thing you should know entering this series is that the Astros starters have nailed it when they face the Rangers. They’re 7-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 75 strikeouts (12 walks) over 67 2/3 innings! How about that?!

Last 10 Games: 4-6 Record, 1 Series Lost, 2 Series Split, -6 Run Differential (40 scored, 46 allowed)

W/L Splits: 27-20 at Home, 27-30 on the Road, 28-27 against teams over .500

Injured List

The Offense

The Rangers have been just a bit above league average in terms of run scoring, but they lack consistency and rank 25th in OBP (.301). Much of their run production comes via home run as they have seven hitters with at least 10 four-baggers, tied for third-most.

With 24, Seager is the only Rangers hitter with 20+ long balls, but Adolis García is not too far behind with 18 long balls. García leads the team in doubles (21), triples (4), runs batted in (70), and ranks second in homers (18) and stolen bases (15). Besides, the Cuban born is a .301/.339/.566 lifetime hitter against the Astros, along with six doubles, eighth dingers, and 24 RBIs.

However, Texas apparently turned off its offense when August began. The Rangers are averaging 3.0 runs per game since August 1 (seven games) and have posted a .229/.298/.346 over the cited period. These stats plus what the Astros starting pitchers have done against the Rangers… hmmm… Not good for them.

The Bullpen

Even though the Rangers bullpen is not the best of the league (that title actually belongs to the Astros), they have pitchers that have been pretty awesome throughout the 2022 season.

Matt Moore is a great example of that. The veteran lefty has a 1.94 ERA, a 1.235 WHIP, and 54 strikeouts across 51 innings. Rookie lefty Brock Burke has also been great, posting a 1.11 ERA, a 0.953 WHIP, and striking out 63 batters in 56 2/3 innings. Both lefties have combined for 107 2/3 innings of 1.50-ERA ball.

But not everything can be perfect for a team with a 48-60 record, right? Exactly! No other bullpen arm brings that kind of quality to Texas, not even closer Joe Barlow, who has four blown saves over 17 save opportunities and a poor 6.8 SO/9 ratio. If their starters don’t go deep in these three games, the Rangers may not have much fun in this series at Minute Maid Park.

The Starters

Game 1: Martín Pérez (LHP, 9-2, 2.47 ERA, 116 K’s) vs José Urquidy (RHP, 10-4, 3.62 ERA, 90 K’s)

Breakout season? Career year? Those two sentences might be perfect to describe Pérez’s 2022 campaign. He was selected to the All-Star game for the first time in his career and has an impressive and unexpected leader in the Rangers rotation. The southpaw has not allowed more than one earned run in any of his last four starts and has arguably been one the Astros’ biggest enemies this season, going 16 innings of 10 hits and one earned run (0.56), including a complete-game shutout. Pérez hasn’t lost a start since April 17. On the other hand, Urquidy struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday and has a 2.29 ERA across his last nine outings.

Game 2: Glenn Otto (RHP, 4-8, 5.31 ERA, 64 K’s) vs Justin Verlander (RHP, 15-3, 1.73 ERA, 127 K’s)

Seeking his first win since June 4, Otto has failed to go long in games. He’s never pitched beyond the sixth inning and, in fact, has never thrown 100 pitches in a game, so he will have to be very efficient against the ‘Stros to give the Rangers a long outing. Since the last time he won a game, Otto has a 0-6 record and carries a 6.45 ERA. Regarding Verlander, he leaves us speechless every fifth day. The living legend is 7-0 with a 0.76 ERA and a .177 opponent batting average over his last seven starts.

Game 3: Cole Ragans (LHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 10-4, 2.87 ERA, 120 K’s)

Ragans made his MLB debut in fashion by firing five shutout innings of three hits, four walks, and three punchouts against the White Sox on August 4. Before being called up, the left-handed youngster had an 8-5, 3.04 record between Double-A and Triple-A. Valdez will go after his 19 straight quality start, a streak that began in April 25 precisely against the Rangers.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, August 9th @ 7:10 pm CDT

Listen: Rangers – KFLC 1270, KRLD 1080, 105.3 The Fan // Astros – KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3 / KLAT 1010

Watch: Rangers – Bally Sports Southwest // Astros – ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Wednesday, August 10th @ 7:10 pm CDT

Listen: Rangers – KFLC 1270, KRLD 1080, 105.3 The Fan // Astros – KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3 / KLAT 1010

Watch: Rangers – Bally Sports Southwest // Astros – ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Thursday, August 11th @ 1:10 pm CDT

Listen: Rangers – KFLC 1270, KRLD 1080, 105.3 The Fan // Astros – KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3 / KLAT 1010

Watch: YouTube

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