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2020 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers

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The Astros (28-28, 2nd in AL West), will finish out the season with a four game set at the Rangers’ (19-37, 5th in AL West) fancy new barn / baseball stadium

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Rangers Quick Notes

The Narrative

Just a few short seasons after representing the AL West in the playoffs, the Rangers are officially the worst team in the AL. The only reason they’re not the worst team in the league is that the Pittsburgh Pirates have also seen just as precipitous a fall, but that’s less satisfying than watching the Astros’ rival do so.

Nothing has really gone right for the Rangers, who rank in the bottom five as a team for most offensive categories. As with win loss record, their team slash line of .214/.282/.357 would be the worst in the league if it wasn’t for the Pirates.

While not quite as atrocious as the offense, rest assured that the Rangers’ pitching has been a complete disaster as well this season. The rotation has not been the strength that it was predicted to be at the beginning of the season and has even lost a piece after Mike Minor was traded to the A’s at the deadline. The team’s 4.97 ERA is good for 23rd in the league, and there’s not really much improvement elsewhere.

On paper, this series looks like it should be a cake walk for the Astros, but Houston’s tendency to let pitchers with ERA’s north of 4 look like Cy Young winners throws that in doubt. Still, you have to imagine that the Astros will be capable of locking up their playoff spot some time in the next four games.

The Offense

Not to sound like a broken record here, but the Rangers’ offense is just not very good. They only have two current players with an OPS over .755, and one of those is a catcher with just 8 games under his belt this season. That catcher is prospect Sam Huff, who the Rangers see as their possible catcher of the future. He’s looked good so far with a .304/.333/.565 slash line and a homer in that time. The other player with an above average OPS is Derek Dietrich, who has only seen 57 at bats this season and hasn’t really been an every day player.

Pretty much the only other bright spot in the lineup after that is Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who leads the team with a .291 batting average this season. He also has three triples on the year and leads the team with 8 stolen bases, and might just be the best all around player at the plate for the Rangers.

As per usual, Joey Gallo is tops in the home run category, with 10 bombs this season. At the same time, his batting average has taken a nose dive and currently sits at just .179. He has walked 29 times though, which also leads the team, so he is more than capable of getting on base.

Honestly, the Rangers team as a whole are capable enough of getting on base. Todd Frazier, Nick Solak, Shin-Soo Choo, and Ronald Guzman all have an OBP north of .300. Of that group, Solak is probably the most dangerous with 10 doubles on the season and 17 walks as well as 6 stolen bases.

The Bullpen

While the Rangers’ pitching has left a lot to be desired, it does sport some good good arms out of the pen. Rafael Montero is the current closer for the team, and has successfully converted all 8 save opportunities that he’s been called on to make. He has a 3.68 ERA in 14.2 innings this season after taking over the role in early August.

Jonathan Hernandez and Brett Martin join him as the late game options for the Rangers. Hernandez has seen a lot of work this season, leading the bullpen with 27.2 innings of work. He has a 2.60 ERA in that time with a 0.98 WHIP across 24 games.

Brett Martin has been even better though with just half the number of innings under his belt this year. He’s sporting a 1.50 ERA this year and tends to bridge the 7th inning for the Rangers.

Probably the best option for the Rangers after that, going by stats, is Jimmy Heget. Heget has tossed 17.2 innings so far this season and only given up 6 runs. Joely Rodriguez has been even better in just 12.2 innings, but he’s currently sitting on the IL. No one else in the Rangers’ bullpen with significant time has an ERA below 4 this season.

The Starters

Lance Lynn is the first up for the Rangers, and he is wrapping up one of the better seasons of his career. The right hander has a 2.53 ERA this year, but his worst appearance was a 6-inning, 6-run outing against the Astros in early September. Houston has been his kryptonite as he owns a 1-4 record with a 4.50 ERA against the Astros. His only win against the Astros came in Arlington last season.

Kyle Cody toes the slab in Game 2, and the young hurler is looking to finish his debut season strong. Cody has looked really good since being called up on August 21st, only giving up 3 earned runs across 17.2 innings since then. He hasn’t pitched deep into any games though, slinging a career-high 5 innings in his last start. Cody went 3 innings against Houston when he faced them on September 15th, giving up a single run and walking two with a strikeout.

You may remember Kyle Gibson from his last start against the Astros when he tossed a four-hit complete game shutout. It was particularly tough to watch the offense flail against this pitcher as he currently owns a 5.87 ERA and has been a disaster in the Rangers’ rotation this season. He owns a 7.18 ERA at home, so hopefully the Astros can make something happen against him in this game.

Jordan Lyles will be the final pitcher the Astros face this year and, in theory, should be a soft target. He has a 7.07 ERA on the season with a 1-5 record. Lyles has been pretty bad in Arlington this year, and is 1-1 with a 6.94 ERA across five games and three starts at home.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, September 24th @ 7:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers FSSW

Game 2: Friday, September 25th @ 7:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers FSSW

Game 3: Saturday, September 26th @ 6:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers FSSW

Game 4: Sunday, September 27th @ 2:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers FSSW

Poll

Who win this series?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (5 votes)
  • 28%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (23 votes)
  • 33%
    Series Split 2-2
    (27 votes)
  • 20%
    Rangers Win 3-1
    (17 votes)
  • 11%
    Rangers Sweep 4-0
    (9 votes)
81 votes total Vote Now