With no baseball to watch today and with the champagne on ice for at least another day, I figured it was an excellent time for me to waste five minutes of your day with my random baseball related musings and idiotic ramblings:
First; the obvious. This team is really damn fun to watch and I have come to terms with the concept that no matter what happens in the playoffs, this year has been an incredible success and it has been a privilege to watch this squad function on a daily basis. However, I just can’t shake the feeling that this team is special and that simply making the postseason is not nearly enough.
In the last few weeks, there have been some positive signs to go along with the variety of question marks that are still sitting there glaring at us (regardless if you choose to look at them or not). Let’s dig through a few of those.
Tanner Scheppers has been an incredible boost to the bullpen, throwing with confidence and looking like the setup man from 2012 rather than the lost soul that flailed around for a while after another Rangers failed attempt to convert a lights out reliever to a starter.
Texas is going to need Scheppers to keep this confidence, because right now, Jake Diekman is throwing as if he has none. Diekman looks lost up there, he seems to be so afraid of getting hit that he won’t throw strikes, which is not a recipe for success. I honestly don’t know how to fix this late in the season other than just throwing him out there and hoping something sticks, which seems to be exactly what they are doing with Keone Kela, who I am less worried about than Diekman, because he continues to just look more rusty than anything else. I’m hoping he gets in enough work between now and the postseason to return to form.
Speaking of form, I love the composure, moxy, and stuff of Matt Bush. What an incredible signing. At this point, I have more faith in him than anyone else in the bullpen (strangely enough, the 1925 stuff of Alex Claudio might be second). Bush will work in some important spot in October and I will be interested in how his story is portrayed on the national stage.
It seems like Choo and Barnette are getting closer to a return, which is somewhere between good and interesting. Before Barnette went down, he might have gotten my vote as bullpen MVP. It’s simply incredible how the two under the radar bullpen signings have performed this season.
In regards to Choo, having him healthy and on base is a great additive to the Texas offense, but honestly, what do the Rangers even do with him at this point? Carlos Gomez is thriving at leadoff, playing like the loves the game again and putting his heart and soul into every inning. I am not sure I would want to shake that while the team has a good thing going (According to Jared Sandler, Carlos has two more hits than Jose Altuve since Gomez joined the Rangers. Baseball is one hell of a sport). Likewise, Nomar Mazara is suddenly hot again. I have frequently talked about how Nomar’s patience is his best friend and his worst enemy at the same time, whereas he has a great eye and will work counts, but often will watch a good pitch go by to swing at a back foot curveball with two strikes. However, he suddenly looks locked in again, which very well may be a result of his return to regular playing time and ability to find a rhythm. So what happens with Choo? I don’t know, but he seems to be on track for a playoff return and I will never complain about a surplus of weapons (however, they should have a player keeping warm in AFL to take Choo’s spot when he tears his hamstring three games into his return).
One more thought on Mazara; if I told you before the season that a 21 year old would come up and hit .277 with 20 homeruns, you would all be thrilled right? What if I told you that a 21 and 22 year old would combine for 9 more homeruns than their combined age with 10 games left in the season? That’s exactly what Texas has gotten from the 51 bombs from Maz and Odor. The future is bright, ladies and gentlemen.
On the the not so bright spots:
Cole Hamels looks like a man battling through an injury. His recent struggles have been well noted and it seems as if the trend is Hamels being lights out for the first inning and then the wheels fall off of the bus. I have no information on this, and this is simply an observation, but his discomfort on the mound and difficulty maintaining fundamentals gives the impression that he does not feel right. I am glad he is getting extra time between starts, but it sure would be nice to see him regain control and confidence before the postseason.
For some reason, I am less worried about Yu Darvish than I am Hamels. Yes; Darvish struggled last time out, but for some reason, we are ignoring the fact that he looked great the start before. He will be just fine and we all have more important things to worry about.
Like all of the starting pitchers after those two.
I am intrigued as to how Banny will set up the playoff rotation. Hamels, Yu, Perez, Lewis? Does Banny go with the splits and throw Perez game two to take advantage of his home numbers (as suggested by Jamey Newberg)?
Lots of questions over the next few weeks. What are your biggest concerns heading into the postseason?