A departure from the usual game previews due to my upcoming lack of Wi-Fi, the Texas Rangers visit the Dome this weekend for a three-game set with both teams looking to put a little distance between themselves and the .500 mark. The Rangers sit comfortably in the AL West just above the aforementioned .500 mark, a few games back of the Houston Astros but solidly in the second place hunt with the Angels and Mariners. Many people expected Texas to be a poor team this season due to their 2014 struggles but they've been a pleasant surprise thanks to some fantastic pitching performances.
Although the squad is not a very good hitting team and not an amazing pitching team on the whole, they've put enough solid games together to get to where they are. At the plate Prince Fielder has been far and away the best slugger for the team with 11 home runs and a slash line of .338/.408/.520, while the rest of the lineup hasn't been too good at all. Only one other player, Mitch Moreland, has an OBP above .330 while top prospect Joey Gallo is still with the team and beginning to find his way in the majors. Despite not hitting very consistently, the team has a bit of power as Fielder (11), Moreland (8), Shin-Soo Choo (8), Robinson Chirinos (6), and Adrian Beltre (6) all have above five homers and obviously have come through at clutch times despite a rather pedestrian run differential overall.
On the mound the Rangers lost starters like Yu Darvish and Derek Holland prematurely, yet have been bailed out in a big way by lesser-known guys like Yovani Gallardo, Nick Martinez, and Chi Chi Gonzalez who all currently feature ERA's below 3.00. The peripherals show that the pitching is no big fluke and the Rangers certainly feature a solid rotation one through five. The bullpen also has a few strong guys who carry the load that you've probably never heard of (Shawn Tolleson, Keone Kela, and Alex Claudio) although as a group the relievers have not been very good.
The bright spot for Toronto is that the Rangers could be much better if they didn't have so many players on the shelf. Aside from Darvish and Holland, the team is also missing Jurickson Profar, Neftali Feliz, and Josh Hamilton who has only played seven games for the squad since coming over from the Angels in their messy breakup.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays they will face Martinez, Gallardo, and Gonzalez in the series which will be quite the challenge. With the way these Rangers starters have been pitching, the Jays rotation will have to match them step for step if they hope to take at least two games this weekend. What's your series prediction against the Rangers?