Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rangers Pepper 8/13: Texas Going Streaking and Rotation Roundup

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”.

It’s been 98 days since the Texas Rangers started a two game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. When play began on May 7th, Texas held a 2.5 game lead over the second place Oakland A’s. They would see that lead rise to as many as 7 games, fall behind by 6 games, and then sprint their way back to a 1 game advantage in those 3+ months.

That rapid climb from out of the West race to front runner has been fueled largely by an 8 game winning streak that they take into tonight’s contest.

For those unfamiliar with the advanced science of the winning streak, I present you with this brilliant synopsis.

Now, let’s dive into the finer details of this current streak and the state of the Rangers rotation moving forward:

A Fast Twitch Approach - It’s the longest winning streak of 2013, the longest winning streak since April of 2012, and the only time in franchise history that a team has won 8 consecutive games in a single road trip.

Much has been said about Texas using a different offensive style of baseball to fuel this current run, thanks to Nelson Cruz’s forced vacation. So how well the numbers match up with the current narrative?

On the bases, Texas averaged 0.8 steals through 61 wins prior to August 4th. Anyone watching the Rangers in their last two series won’t be shocked that that number has more than doubled to 1.9 during the streak.

At the plate they averaged 10.5 hits, 3.7 extra base hits, and 6 runs per game in their first 61 W’s. During this 8 game stretch they have averaged 0.9 H less, 0.6 XBH less, but 0.1  R more. The difference being essentially the 1 H less representing a lost XBH.

Not surprising is that the drop in XBH correlates to a drop from 1.6 HR per game in the first 61 wins to 0.8 during the last 8. Hammering home the message is the fact that in their 50 losses in 2013, Texas has averaged 0.7 HR per game.

Indeed, the Rangers are changing their fortunes and making up for the lost pop in the lineup by succeeding to force the issue on the basepaths.

The Rotation Is Set - Texas is now 0-2 in rehabbing rotation arms.

Colby Lewis is out for the remainder of the year after hip surgery, and it was announced this afternoon that Matt Harrison is being shut down as well.

Any hopes of replacing Alexi Ogando in the rotation sometime this August are in the hands of Nick Tepesch. Those hands started playing catch on July 31st, but have yet to throw from a mound, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

That leaves Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Garza, and Martin Perez as the potential playoff rotation (all fingers and toes crossed) as things stand on August 13th. Statistically, that rotation is as good as any of the rotations of the five teams currently holding a playoff spot.

Texas’ 2.99 ERA is ranked number one, and while their 1.223 WHIP sits just 4th best, it’s far from horrible. Assuming the Red Sox have a healthy Clay Buchholz and the Rays a healthy Alex Cobb and Matt Moore, here are how all six teams stack up:
  • TEX: 2.99/1.223 (ERA/WHIP)
  • DET: 3.18/1.151
  • BOS: 3.45/1.273
  • OAK: 3.67/1.217
  • TBR: 3.74/1.185

During this 8 game winning streak the Rangers rotation has posted a 2.38 ERA and 1.056 WHIP.

And for you saber rattlers in the crowd, Texas owns the second best FIP among the five:
  • DET: 2.99
  • TEX: 3.28
  • BOS: 3.50
  • TBR: 3.69
  • OAK: 4.12

If the injury bug is done biting, then Texas is a formidable foe from the mound come October.

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