The Playoff Push
Writer: Aaron Hendon
With 1 month to go The Rangers currently sit 4 games behind the Twins in the American League Wild Card race with the Los Angeles Angels (1 game back) and the red hot Baltimore Orioles (1.5 games on back), after taking 2 out of 3 from the Houston Astros to bring the silver boot series within 2 games. The Astros have a 9-7 advantage with one more series between the two teams in Arlington, Sept. 25th-28th. The Rangers go home to take on the Angels this weekend, who have won 3 straight after losing 3 out of 4 to the Rangers last week in Anaheim. Throughout this long major league season the Rangers have had a difficult time staying above .500; it seems like anytime they get a two steps ahead they find a way to take four steps backward.
Over the next month the Rangers will face all but two teams outside of their division that being 3 games in Atlanta and another 3 at home against the struggling New York Yankees. That being said, the Rangers have not played particularly well against division foes this year by posting a 24-28 record against the AL West this season. The Rangers could put together a run worthy enough to snag a spot in the Wild Card game. Of all of the teams in the race for the Wild Card, the Rangers, with only three of their next six opponents being .500 seem to have the easiest path over the next month.
Going 16-12 in the month of August, the Rangers boasted a team batting average of .279 while averaging 5.4 runs per game, led by Elvis Andrus who is hit over .430 with an on base percentage of .486 on this past road trip. The pitching staff turned it around after a mediocre July with a 3.95 team ERA and a .243 opponent batting average in the month of August.
Let's not forget with the rosters expanding on September 1st could add a little umph to the back end of the bullpen, and some young energy from a couple eager rookies looking to prove their worth. Lefty reliever Jake Diekman should make his season debut after missing the last 4 months with a colon issue, Look for Diekman to make an impact to what has been an inconsistent bullpen. Also keep an eye on minor leaguers Willie Calhoun (.292/.349/.560) and Ronald Guzman (.302/.373/.433) to finally get the nod and be called up to the show. I am not saying these 3 guys will make or break the chance of the Rangers making a playoff spot, but I do think they could add a little juice if needed.
This is a team that has underachieved all year; after leading the American League with winning 95 games in 2016 only to be swept in the 1st round by the Toronto Blue Jays. They post a run differential (+38) that is 5th in the American League. The Rangers are still very capable of making push to the pennant, they just have to win.