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2021 Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (20-17, 2nd in AL West) welcome little brother to town for a 4-game series against the Rangers (18-20, 4th in AL West)

MLB: SEP 17 Rangers at Astros Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Narrative

The Rangers arrive in town during a rebuilding year that saw them get off to an unsurprisingly poor start. However, they have been on an upward swing the last couple of weeks by winning 3 of their last 4 series, including a 4 game set against the Red Sox. They will start this series on a two-game skid though, as they were mini-swept by the Giants earlier this week.

There’s really not much to hang your hat on if you’re the Rangers so far this year. They have a middling offense that sports a .243/.313/.396 slash line and no real area of excellence, except for stealing bases.

They are second in the league with 28 swiped bags so far this year, so expect some movement on the base paths when they get on. That goes double for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who accounts for a full quarter of the team’s total steals all by himself.

Like the offense, the Rangers’ pitching staff has been average at best, but they trend more towards the bottom of the pile than the top. They are currently tied for league-worst with 51 homers surrendered. It’s not just that though, as they are also dead last when it comes to hits in general, and have given up a rather abysmal 329 in 336.2 IP.

Most of the pitching woes for the Rangers can be blamed on the starters as their reliver stats have been more average than bad so far this year. Of course that’s not to say that the Rangers’ bullpen has been scary or anything, their stats are just slightly better in comparison to the starters. Rangers relievers have still given up a ton of hits and homers in comparison to the rest of the league so, in theory, Astros hitters should have an easy go of it this weekend.

The Rangers are expected to limp along this year as they work towards postseason relevance once again. While it definitely won’t happen this season, the Rangers are giving AB’s to some interesting young players who might factor into the division in the coming years.

But they’re also the Rangers, so let’s just go ahead and sweep ‘em. #BTSOOTR

Quick Notes

No Rest from the West: The Rangers are the last divisional foe that the Astros have yet to play and this will be their 8th series so far this season playing an AL West team. They will play two more after this one (the A’s next and then off to Arlington for another series against the Rangers), which means that 10 of their first 15 series in 2021 are against AL West foes.

Adolis, brother of Adonis: It feels like Adolis Garcia (.292/.333/.585) got the short end of the name stick considering his brother is named Adonis (and also plays for the Braves). However, he’ll have to just live with that and the fact that he’s been the Rangers’ best player so far this season, even after missing the first couple of weeks. He leads the team in homers (9) and RBI (26), and is coming into this series hot with 10 hits in his last five games.

Honorable Mention: Nate Lowe (.289.380.479) is probably the biggest threat in the lineup after Garcia. Lowe has popped 7 homers of his own so far this year and is tied for the team lead with 6 doubles. Like Garcia, he’s been hot recently and is riding a 5-game hitting streak coming into Game 1.

Trade Bait: Joey Gallo (.214/.361/.381) is one of the more obvious trade piece that the rebuilding Rangers have in their pocket. He hasn’t exactly done wonders for his value this season, but he does still get on base at a healthy .361 clip and can take opposing pitchers deep fairly regularly. He has been on a cold streak lately though, so we’ll see if that holds up.

Thief in the Night Game: Isiah Kiner-Falefa (.283.329.441) has been a terror on the base paths so far this season. He’s tied for third in the league with 7 stolen bases already and has only been caught once. Expect him to be on the move if gets on base at any point.

Closer: Ian Kennedy has stepped into the closer role for the Rangers this season and has been one of the bright spots in their bullpen. Kennedy has successfully converted all 10 of his save opportunities this season and has a 2.40 ERA in 15 IP.

Back End: John King and Joely Rodriguez seem to be the high leverage guys so far this season for the Rangers. King has been solid with a 2.00 ERA in 18 IP, but a 1.33 WHIP and .288 BAA are not exactly ideal. Meanwhile, Rodriguez has an even better 1.86 ERA, but has only worked in 9.2 innings so far this year.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Mike Foltynewicz (RHP, 1-3, 4.50 ERA) vs Cristian Javier (RHP, 3-1, 2.90 ERA)

The Rangers will go with Foltynewicz to start the series against the Astros, the team that originally drafted him. He has been a dependable arm for the Rangers, getting through at least five innings in each start except his first, but he has also had some clunkers along the way. Most recently he went 6.2 innings against the Mariners and gave up 4 runs with a couple of homers in that one.

Game 2: TBD vs Zack Greinke (RHP, 2-1, 4.23 ERA)

This spot in the Rangers’ rotation was formerly filled by Kohei Arihara, who was recently placed on the IL with a contusion in his finger. The Rangers have yet to decide who will start in his place, but have indicated that they could recall Wes Benjamin from Round Rock to take over if this isn’t a bullpen game. Benjamin debuted last season and has seen some time in the big leagues, sporting a 4.82 ERA in 28 IP.

Game 3: Dane Dunning (RHP, 2-2, 3.78 ERA) vs Luis Garcia (RHP, 0-3, 3.60 ERA)

Dunning, playing in just his second season, managed a career high 10 strikeouts in 5 innings during his last game out. He’s done well in his last two starts, only giving up 2 earned runs in each after a couple of less than stellar performances before that. This will be his first career start against the Astros.

Game 4: Kyle Gibson (RHP, 3-0, 2.28 ERA) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 3-1, 3.10 ERA)

Ever since giving up 5 earned runs in 0.1 innings on Opening Day, Kyle Gibson has been an ace in the rotation for the Rangers. He hasn’t pitched less than 6 innings in 7 starts since then and has only given up more than 1 earned run once. He was nails against the Astros last season, shutting them out in 15 innings of work across two games.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, May 13th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Rangers - Bally Sports Southwest / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

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Game 2: Friday, May 11th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Rangers - Bally Sports Southwest+ / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW+

Game 3: Saturday, May 12th @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Rangers - Bally Sports Southwest / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 4: Sunday, May 12th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Rangers - Bally Sports Southwest / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (25 votes)
  • 62%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (79 votes)
  • 11%
    Series Split 2-2
    (15 votes)
  • 4%
    Rangers Win 3-1
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Rangers Sweep 4-0
    (2 votes)
127 votes total Vote Now