That was a pretty awful showing by Texas. Some thoughts:
- Lately, Joe Saunders has been pretty much what we expected he would be. After getting torched by Baltimore for 7 earned runs -- while giving up 4 home runs, no less -- Saunders now sees himself with a 6.13 ERA. His WHIP of 2.067 combined with a .367 BABIP indicate mostly what the results are telling us: Joe Saunders has been getting hit hard. Those hard-hit balls are beginning to fall for opponents, and just may spell the pending end of the Joe Saunders era in Texas.
His xFIP of 5.04 heading into tonight's start is no accident either. As a pitcher, you can't expect any kind of extended success when walking almost 5 batters per 9 innings, giving up almost 2 home runs per 9 innings, and only striking out 4.99 batters per 9 innings. Those aren't the sort of numbers that tend to play out well over the course of a full season, and we're seeing that now with Saunders. For the time being, I have no idea who you replace him with, so the organization may be forced to roll with him just a little bit longer until Derek Holland can finally go out on a rehab assignment.
- In fairness, Saunders seems at least willing to admit his own failures, which when combined with the club's recent stretch of poor play, exacerbates the problem.
"You can’t even imagine how frustrating it is. You see our guys out there battling, scuffling, and you want to throw up zeroes and you don’t. It’s just [expletive] miserable. It’s not fun. This is a game of ‘What have you done lately,’ and I haven’t done [expletive].”
- Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't exactly been stellar thus far on the season, but in two starts against Texas in 2014, he's looked unstoppable. An ERA of 0.66 in 13.2 innings pitched has made the Texas lineup look silly, no matter the combination that Ron Washington throws out on any given day. The Texas .548 OPS against Jimenez plays that line of thinking out as well.
- That, I think, is what will end up being the trademark if this year's club. We all expected to see better run-scoring, but injuries and ineffectiveness have sapped away that possibility. Even high-priced acquisition, Shin-Soo Choo, has struggled to contribute lately as he's dealt with a bum ankle. I know I've said it before, but now would seem to be a really good time to find a way to get Choo onto the DL. The ankle is obviously hindering his performance, and I'd hate to see this turn into an Ian Kinsler scenario in which the ankle ends up bothering him for multiple seasons. The Rangers need Choo healthy more in 2015 and beyond than they do right now, hovering near the bottom of the AL West.
- They play three more games in this series, and I think the best-case scenario Texas should hope for is to try to win two of the remaining three games. Right now, with the club scuffling along, that seems to be a bit optimistic, but crazier things have happened.