by Dustin Copening
“#RangersThoughts” on Twitter can be seen by following me @dfwfanconnect, but those thoughts evolve every few days from 140 characters into what I have dubbed as “Rangers Pepper”. After reading this, you might consider watching Dr. Pepper baseball tonight instead of Rangers baseball until this thing turn around:
Nowhere To Turn - David Murphy stepped into the number 2 spot in the lineup on May 18th. The moaning and complaining was instantly deafening from the crowd of those who like to moan and complain. In spite of his detractors, Murphy hit a respectful .277, with an .811 OPS, 3 HR, and 13 RBI (there are two 1 for 2 games off of the bench mixed in these numbers). Then June 1st hit.
In the 12 games played since the calendar turned, Murphy is hitting .130, with an OPS of .492, 1 HR and 3 RBI. Those are number that would lead you to believe Murph has been attempting to hit with a wiffle bat. Unfortunately, there’s no explanation that simple for his struggles.
How can Ron Washington justify keeping a player in such a pitiful slump in the 2nd spot of the batting order when his team starving for offensive production?
Maybe it’s that since the start of June, Lance Berkman is hitting .194, Leonys Martin is hitting .120, Craig Gentry is hitting .190, Jeff Baker is hitting .226, and Elvis Andrus is hitting .200 at lead-off. Jurickson Profar is another option, but he’s hitting just .244 in June, and would be at .200 if not for his 3-5 performance to close out the Cleveland series two nights ago.
The frustrating thing for Washington and Rangers fans is that the only players hitting over .300 are Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, and A.J. Pierzynski. Want to move one of them into the number two hole? Then Texas is left with a gaping void in the middle of the order, waiting to be filled by someone hitting in the .220 range at best.
It’s these moments where even the most optimistic of people struggle with the darkness.
Not Much Yu Can Do - Yu Darvish began the month of May with a 2.33 ERA and 0.818 WHIP. His 3.79 ERA and 0.994 WHIP over five starts during May was a small step backwards, but the Rangers still managed a 3-2 record in those starts.
For his three June appearances, Yu has allowed only 3 ER (4 runs total) on 12 hits while striking out 22 and walking 7. That’s good for a 1.29 ERA and a .905 WHIP, and he’s gone 7 innings in each start. Texas was 5-1 in games where Darvish pitched 7 or more innings, but are 1-2 in three such starts in June.
Not surprisingly, Yu has seen his run support per outing plummet each month, from 7.2 in April, to 5.2 in May, and to 2.3 so far in June.
Wrong Way At The Wrong Time - The Rangers head into tonight’s contest with Toronto on a three game losing streak. A win tonight will keep them as the sole team in baseball not to lose four straight in 2013. That feat sounds impressive, but for those paying attention it does little to mask how poorly things have gone for Texas since May 26th.
Texas has now had three 3-game losing streak in their last 17 games played. They are 6-11 over that stretch, hitting .241 and scoring just 3.6 runs per game. That’s down from a .272 average and 4.7 runs scored per game in Texas’s first 49 contests played in 2013.
Compounding the offensive slide in production is a bump in team ERA (from 3.44 in the first 49 to 3.90 in the next 17), and a spike in mental mistakes defensively (from 0.5 errors per game to 0.7 during this dreadful run).
Toss in the Oakland A’s 14-4 record over the same period and you get the complete picture of how an AL West lead of 5.5 games going into May 26th has flipped to a 2 game deficit on June 14th.
Poll Question: How Much Rangers Baseball Do You Watch During A Team Slump?