Series Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Indians

Summary:

The Texas Rangers enter the series in first place, one game ahead of the Seattle Mariners for first place in the American League West. Texas went 13-15 in May. They hit .290 (62-for-214) as a team against the Indians last year Nelson Cruz hit only .200, but added three homers and four RBI.

Injury Watch:

  • SS Elvis Andrus (swollen left foot) left the May 30 game. He appeared as a reserve May 31, but started June 1 and had two stolen bases.

  • LHP Matt Harrison (blister on left index finger) left the May 28 game, but he is expected to start June 2. Harrison was scratched from that start but hoped to start June 7.

  • OF Julio Borbon (left hamstring inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Frisco on May 30, and he moved his rehab to Class AAA Round Rock on May 31. If all goes well, Borbon could be activated June 6.

  • RHP Tommy Hunter (right groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 25. He threw off a mound for the first time April 19. He threw batting practice April 25, and he pitched in extended spring training April 30. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Frisco on May 4. He started for Class AAA Round Rock on May 9 but tweaked his groin on his last pitch. An MRI showed a recurrence of his groin strain, and he was shut down until late May.

  • RHP Scott Feldman (microfracture right knee surgery in November 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He began pitching in extended spring training in late April, and he began a rehab assignment with Class AA Frisco on May 14. He pitched for Class AAA Round Rock on May 19 and May 24, but he was still struggling with his knee, and on May 27, his rehab assignment was postponed indefinitely.

  • RHP Brandon Webb (right shoulder surgery in August 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 14. He was throwing bullpen sessions in early and mid-April, and he threw batting practice April 20. Webb pitched in extended spring training in late April and early May. Webb made his first rehab assignment start May 30 for Class AA Frisco, but he was ineffective.

  • RHP Mason Tobin (right elbow tightness) went on the 60-day disabled list April 20. He was diagnosed with inflammation in the right ulnar collateral ligament following an MRI exam and CT scan. The treatment plan was uncertain.

  • RHP Eric Hurley (skull fracture and post-concussion symptoms) was called up from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list April 23. He was hurt when hit in the head by a line drive April 18 while pitching for Class AAA Round Rock.

  • RHP Darren O’Day (torn labrum in left hip) went on the 60-day disabled list April 27. He had surgery April 28, and the timetable for his return was unknown.

  • RHP Omar Beltre (back surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 8.

Team Notes:

  • LHP Matt Harrison was scratched from his scheduled start Thursday due to a blister on his left index finger. Harrison tried to throw on two different occasions between starts and still found the skin too sensitive. The hope is that it will callus over and Harrison will be able to take his next regular turn on Tuesday against Detroit. RHP Dave Bush will start Thursday and LHP Michael Kirkman will likely relieve him.

  • LHP Arthur Rhodes will see his role further diminished in the wake of recent poor performances. According to the Dallas Morning News, Manager Ron Washington said he will seek to further “protect” his 41-year-old reliever, who is looking more and more like a one-batter left-handed specialist. Rhodes has pitched more than one inning only once this year and not since April 17. He has pitched on back-to-back days only twice. And after allowing a home run to Evan Longoria on Tuesday, he’s not likely to face right-handers any time soon. Right-handed batters went 6-for-14 with three home runs against him in May.

  • SS Elvis Andrus stole two bases on Wednesday and has 17 steals this season without being caught. Dating to the 2010 postseason, he has 23 consecutive successful steal attempts.

  • RHP Colby Lewis pitched eight shutout innings Wednesday. Since April 30, Lewis has averaged 7 2/3 innings for his seven starts and has held hitters to a .218 batting average while compiling a 2.04 ERA.

  • DH Michael Young was the leading vote-getter at designated hitter when the first AL All-Star voting update was released on Wednesday. Young, who has been to six All-Star Games but has never been voted a starter by the fans, led Boston’s David Ortiz by about 28,000 votes. OF Josh Hamilton was third among outfielders.

Tribe Killer(s):

Elvis Andrus- batted .500 (8-for-16) average against the Indians last year. For his career, he is batting .396 with two home-runs in 48 at-bats against the Wahoo’s

Nelson Cruz- Has hit five home-runs in 50 at-bats, second most hit against any opponent except the Yankees (7).

Pitching Matchups:

Tonight: RHP Carlos Carrasco vs. RHP Dave Bush

Dave Bush gets the start for Harrison (see Injury Watch) tonight. Thinking back to a much simpler time in life- say 2007- there was an astute fantasy owner in one of my leagues could have extracted a terrible price by drafting Dave Bush and dangling him in front of me. In 2006, Bush led the NL with a 4.4 K/BB ratio, and I fancied him on the verge of a breakout—if that season were repeated today, I’d make eyes at his 3.57 FIP, sit back, and wait for him to lop a run off his ERA. That didn’t happen, as Bush’s Maddux-like control regressed the following season, followed shortly by his strikeout rate, which had been only passable to begin with. Worse still, he’s become more fly-ball-oriented in recent seasons, and his results have predictably suffered. Bush serves as a reminder that sometimes being on the verge of a breakout isn’t far from being broken. It’s clear that Bush’s moment has come and gone, but the Rangers thought him worthy of long relief and have reunited him with his pitching coach from those almost-glory days, Mike Maddux. He gets the spot start tonight and has only struck out 11 in 20.3 IP this season.

Tomorrow night: RHP Justin Masterson vs. RHP Alexi Ogando

Used strickly as a reliever last year for the Rangers, Ogando has pitched very well in the starting rotation in 2011. So far, he has started ten games and has gone into the sixth inning or later in each of them. At age 27, the Dominican flame thrower has not lost a game all season.There were concerns about Oganda’s ability to get lefties out entering the season, but he has fared really well against them so far (an OPS against just over 600). Nobody is going to keep a sub-2 ERA, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be a decent option for the Rangers heading forward.
As a side note, you have to tip your cap to Texas on reliever-to-starter transitions too. Either they’ve gotten lucky a few times, or they know what’s up. Maybe a bit of both.

Saturday night: RHP Fausto Carmona vs. LHP Derrek Holland

As a left-hander whose heat sits at 93-96 mph, Holland has true star potential, but his rookie campaign in 2009 showed that there is still plenty of work to be done to get him there. He occasionally dominated, including a three-hitter against the first-place Angels in a crucial August series. More often than not, however, he was forced to rely overmuch on the heater, as his slider just disappeared completely from his repertoire at times. Still just 24, he’s still a way from the upswing of his career path, and pitchers with his raw abilities are hard to find, is why he is in the Rangers rotation even after a lackluster 2010 season too. While his numbers have improved this year, he still shows how raw he is on the mound.

Sunday afternoon: RHP Mitch Talbot vs. LHP C.J. Wilson

In his second year as a starter, Wilson is yet another by-product of the Rangers development plan of taking relievers and making them starters. Ogando, Holland, and Wilson were all schooled in the Nolan Ryan Express University. This season, the 30 year-old has had double digit strikeouts in 4 of his 12 starts. He has the most strikeouts (8.30) per nine innings pitched of any Rangers starter. He is the type of pitcher that the Indians usually have trouble with.

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