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2021 Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (58-39, 1st in AL West) defend the boot once more as the reeling Rangers (35-62, 5th in AL West) come to town

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Notes

The Rangers limp into the town dragging a 9 game losing streak that hasn’t seen them win a game since July 9th. July has been an absolute nightmare for Arlington, who is 4-13 so far this month. On top of that, they’ve been outscored 10-54 since the All Star Game, including three straight games where they were shut out.

Of course, this was always supposed to be a lost season for the Rangers, who haven’t been in a competitive spot at any significant point of the 2021 season. This makes them guaranteed sellers as I’m sure they are hoping to get a good return for Joey Gallo or Kyle Gibson. At least they better hope so because I don’t see much hope in Southern Oklahoma this year beyond that.

Last 10 Games: 1-9 Record, 1 Series Lost, 2 Series Swept, -50(!) Run Differential (18 Scored, 68 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 22-25 at home, 13-37 on the road, 23-40 against teams over .500


Offense

As one would expect from the opening of this article, the Rangers’ offense has been fairly nonexistent across the course of the season. Slashing a paltry .228/.297/.375, the team’s collective .673 OPs is 29th in the league. Things don’t get too much better from there, ranking in the bottom half, mostly the bottom ten, in most other stats.

The one area that they can claim real competency over is stealing bases. Though they’re not as close to the top of the league as they used to be, their 55 swipes is the 7th most in MLB. The fact that they barely get on base at a .297 clip makes that number even more impressive.

Notable Players:

  • Destined for a one-way ticket out of Arlington in the next couple of weeks, Joey Gallo (228/.387/.497) seems to be the Rangers’ biggest trade piece and definitely one of their better hitters. Gallo, of course, leads the Rangers in homers at 24 and managed a stretch at the beginning of July where he mashed 7 taters in 5 games.
  • Adolis Garcia (.262/.304/.500) is probably the Rangers’ most complete hitter except in the base on balls department. Garcia has seen his stats trending down recently though he does have a single hit in each of his last four games. That came after four straight games without one though.

Pitching

Continuing on the theme here, there hasn’t been a whole lot of redeemable qualities for Rangers pitching this season. They are in the bottom third of the league in most traditional stats as a unit, with a collective 4.74 ERA that puts them at 24th in MLB.

It’s not easy to pin blame either as both the bullpen and the rotation have been a disaster in pretty much equal numbers. If you squint, relievers have been slightly more effective, but not really by much. It also doesn’t help that Kyle Gibson, a resurgent starter that seemed destined to bring the Rangers a big prospect haul, has fallen apart somewhat in his last two starts.

Notable Relievers:

  • Ian Kennedy (RHP, 2.59 ERA, 31.1 IP, 33 K’s) is the Rangers’ closer and remains their best reliever. He’s only seen 31.1 innings this season, which is not much in comparison to other relievers, but the team doesn’t hand him a whole lot of save opportunities. Kennedy has only blown one save in 16 tries, which came against the Astros back in late May.
  • Joely Rodriguez (LHP, 6.04 ERA, 25.1 IP, 28 K’s) and Josh Sborz (RHP, 4.33 ERA, 35.1 IP, 46 K’s) have both done work as the Rangers’ set up man this season, though I’m not sure who currently owns the role. Rodriguez’s season isn’t as bad as his ERA would lead you to believe as it’s inflated mostly due to a few bad outings. Meanwhile, Sborz has been steady but fairly mediocre in 2021.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Kolby Allard (LHP, 2-7, 4.06 ERA, 62 K’s) vs Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 3-5, 4.09 ERA, 45 K’s)

Allard stumbles into this game after giving up 14 runs (11 earned) in his 3 July starts this season. He started the year in the Rangers’ pen before moving into the rotation in late May, where he was initially effective before falling off a cliff in recent weeks. He has faced Houston twice out of the pen for 3 IP without giving up a run, but also walked 3.

Game 2: Kyle Gibson (RHP, 6-2, 2.86 ERA, 90 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 5-2, 3.26 ERA, 56 K’s)

Kyle Gibson’s last two starts are probably keeping the Rangers’ front office awake at night after dropping 13 earned runs in 11.1 IP. Already salivating at the prospects he was likely to get in trade, Arlington is hoping that he can return to the form he’s had for a majority of the season and regain his dominance. He’s faced Houston three times this season and has had his way so far, holding the Astros to just 4 runs across 19 IP.

Game 3: TBD vs Zack Greinke (RHP, 9-3, 3.58 ERA, 89 K’s)

The Rangers have not announced their starter for this game but Dane Dunning (RHP, 3-7, 4.30 ERA, 87 K’s) was slotted in the last time through the rotation. Dunning has had an up and down season but has enjoyed success in July, pitching to a 2.63 ERA across 3 games. He usually doesn’t go deep, logging between 4 to 5 innings per game, so expect to see some bullpen in this game if Dunning gets the start.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, July 23rd @ 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: Saturday, July 24th @ 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 3: Sunday, July 25th @ 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

  • 49%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (50 votes)
  • 37%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (38 votes)
  • 7%
    Rangers Win 2-1
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    Rangers Sweep 3-0
    (5 votes)
101 votes total Vote Now