The Yankees now travel to Arlington to face the Texas Rangers in a four game series. This is the first time they faced the Rangers since September 2019, where an already qualified for the postseason Yankees played basically for nothing.
The Yankees have sneakily not lost a series since mid-April. They don’t feel like they are totally rolling yet but there is more good than bad overall. Let’s hope they do their job against a Rangers team that is not that good, and manage to stop this kind of annoying trend of losing possible sweep games.
Three more games left in the Yankees’ regular season, and they’ll play them in Globe Life Park to close out the stadium.
Their Story, Past and Future
At 76-83, the Rangers will finish with the eighth-best record in the American League, smack dab in the middle of things. That just about defines their season. They were mediocre, a strong first half that belied the team’s overall talent level. Texas wasn’t a serious playoff contender.
The Rangers go into the offseason at a crossroads. Their minor league system ranked No. 27 in Baseball America’s post-deadline list, and their big league club could use a boost. They have two intriguing pitchers — Mike Minor and Lance Lynn — who could fetch something in a trade.
But a teardown is unlikely. The team is moving into a new ballpark after this series and Texas might look to play in free agency rather than take a step back. The Rangers are a wild card this offseason as they could go any direction.
C Jeff Mathis, RF Nomar Mazara, DH Hunter Pence, OF Joey Gallo and INF Logan Forsythe are all likely out for this series. On the pitching side, Texas will miss Jesses Biddle and Chavez, Taylor Hearn and Nate Jones.
Spotlight: Globe Life Park I
When the 27th out is recorded on Sunday, the first Globe Life Park will cease operations as the home of the Texas Rangers. In about six months, the team will open the 2020 season at a new place, also named Globe Life Park.
The reason why they’re abandoning their beautiful home after 25 years is simple: The Texas heat. Summer games can be unbearable in the Arlington air, and presents a challenge for the Rangers. The new park will have a retractable roof and appears to be a mix between Houston’s Minute Maid Park and the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium in its renderings.
The Rangers, in this way, might be getting out in front of the future of baseball, to be played at some point exclusively in arenas with a roof rather than outdoors. Climate change is real. Whether from rain, natural disaster or unbearable heat, it can and will affect baseball in the coming decades, as it already has.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mourn for the Ballpark at Arlington. It was a fantastic structure, a beauty and one that stands out among modern parks. The new park might have been necessary, yet renderings look like other structures, not something entirely its own.
Shin-Soo Choo, RF (.264/.369/.451, 110 wRC+)
Elvis Andrus, SS (.274/.311/.395, 76 wRC+)
Willie Calhoun, LF (.273/.328/.539, 115 wRC+)
Danny Santana, 3B (.284/.322/.534, 110 wRC+)
Rougned Odor, 2B (.204/.280/.434, 75 wRC+)
Nick Solak, DH (.303/.402/.505, 132 wRC+)
Ronald Guzmán, 1B (.217/.304/.418, 79 wRC+)
Jose Trevino, C (.252/.268/.374, 55 wRC+)
Delino DeShields, CF (.246/.324/.344, 71 wRC+)
The Rangers’ bench includes catcher Tim Federowicz (33 wRC+), INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa (55 wRC+) and OF Scott Heineman (34 wRC+). As mentioned before, Mathis, Forsythe, Gallo and Mazara are either ruled out or unlikely to play.
Friday (8:05 p.m. EDT): James Paxton (vs. Rangers) vs. Joe Palumbo Saturday (8:05 p.m. EDT): Luis Severino (vs. Rangers) vs. TBD
I’m grouping these two games together because both appear to be bullpen games in the making. Mike Minor, the Rangers’ ace, pitched yesterday (and caused a stir) while Lance Lynn goes Sunday. The team’s other three starters either contributed to Tuesday’s game (Ariel Jurado and Kolby Allard) while Brock Burke was shelled in Oakland last weekend.
Palumbo is a left-hander who has all of six games of MLB experience and a 9.22 ERA. A starter in the Minor Leagues, he’s pitched all of three innings this month and last pitched a single inning Saturday.
Lance Lynn leads baseball in wild pitches (18), but beyond that trivia, he’s had a strong season. He sports a 3.76 ERA (3.15 FIP) over 32 starts and 201 innings. He hadn’t eclipsed 200 innings since he missed the 2016 season with Tommy John surgery.
I detailed his breakthrough year at age-32 and why the Yankees let him go earlier this month. Since then, he was defeated by the Yankees before facing three more playoff teams (Rays, Astros and A’s). In those three starts, he struck out 27 over 19 1/3 innings and allowed just 18 hits and five walks.
Lynn’s a fastball-first guy. And a fastball second, third and fourth. He thrives off his mix of fastballs and will be looking to put an exclamation point on his season and the Rangers’ time at Globe Life Park I. He also might be facing a skeleton lineup Sunday with the Yankees just about locked into their playoff spot.
The Rangers needed just one out from their bullpen Thursday as Mike Minor reached 200 strikeouts for the season by recording his ninth K on out No. 26. Here’s who Texas has in the pen.
RHP: Emmanuel Clase, Luke Farrell, Shawn Kelley, Jose Leclerc, Ian Gibaut, Jonathan Hernandez, Rafael Montero, Adrian Sampson, Phillips Valdez, Edinson Volquez
I got into some of their starters above, but Volquez might make his final career start this weekend. He’s an opener at this point in his career and has said he will retire after the season.
As for high leverage guys, Clase is their wunderkind, a 22-year-old who throws 100-mph cutters and has a ton of potential. Kelley is a veteran closer for the team while Leclerc and Montero could each see late-inning spots.
The Yankees host the Rangers for the first of two September series with the AL West foe.
Their Story So Far
At 67-71, the Rangers are 12.5 games back of the second wild card, no longer having realistic postseason hopes. The team is coming from a 3 p.m. start in Texas for the 1 p.m. start today. That means the Rangers won’t be entirely fresh on Labor Day.
The Rangers are headlined by starters Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, who will both face the Yankees this series. Both veterans have peaked this season in Texas and drew significant trade interest. Slugger Joey Gallo has star potential, but he’s out for this series.
The Yankees play the Rangers in Texas to end the season. That will close out Texas’ current park, and the Yankees visit there next April for the new one.
The Rangers are missing some key hitters, namely Joey Gallo (hand surgery), Hunter Pence (back strain). Nomar Mazara (oblique) is back for this series.
Meanwhile, pitchers Jesse Chavez and Nate Jones are out for the season, while Jesse Biddle and Taylor Hearn likely are, too.
Player Spotlight: Nick Solak
The Yankees traded two prospects in a three-way trade to acquire Brandon Drury during 2018 Spring Training. One of those prospects was Solak, who went to Tampa Bay before he was traded to Texas.
Is Solak the most interesting player on this roster? No. Gallo, Lynn and Minor are borderline great, while Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Willie Calhoun are intriguing/fun to watch. However, like J.P. Crawford with the Mariners, Solak is the type of player the Rangers need to hit on to get out of their reload/rebuild.
Solak is a bat-first infielder, who has primarily played second base. He doesn’t have prodigious power like many prospects, but he has good walk and strikeout rates. The Yankees didn’t and wouldn’t have room for him; The Rangers have all the playing time to hand him and see what he can do.
The Rangers can be back in the postseason soon if they hit on a few players like Solak and fill out their pitching staff. That new stadium could attract players who were put off by their current park exposed to the elements. But veteran signings only get you so far; You also need to build from within.
Shin-Soo Choo, DH (.263/.369/.453, 112 wRC+)
Elvis Andrus, SS (.275/.313/.401, 79 wRC+)
Nomar Mazara, RF (.268/.318/.464, 94 wRC+)
Nick Solak, 3B (.333/.451/.524, 152 wRC+ in 51 PA)
Willie Calhoun, LF (.275/.315/.550, 114 wRC+)
Danny Santana, 1B (.288/.315/.550, 112 wRC+)
Rougned Odor, 2B (.194/.272/.397, 65 wRC+)
Delino Deshields, CF (.250/.335/.347, 78 wRC+)
Jeff Mathis, C (.161/.214/.225, 5 wRC+)
Rangers have a packed bench with Sept. call-ups. It’s composed of backup catcher Jose Trevino (58 wRC+), 1B/INF Logan Forsythe (76 wRC+), 1B Ronald Guzman (68 wRC+), C/INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa (64 wRC+) and OF Scott Heineman (44 wRC+). Guzman had a 3-homer game against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees last August.
Minor leads American League pitchers in Baseball Reference’s WAR with 7.0 bWAR so far this season. At 31 years old, Minor has pitched to a 3.25 ERA over 174.1 innings, striking out 175 in a career year. He hasn’t been as effective in the second half, sporting a 4.71 ERA and allowing 10 homers in 57.1 innings.
The left-hander is in the second year of a three-year contract with the Rangers and is a first-time All-Star. He would be a prime trade candidate this offseason, though the Rangers may want him to pitch Opening Day at their new park.
Minor attacks with a low-90s fastball with a 99th percentile spin rate. He plays off of it with a changeup, as well as a slider and curveball. The changeup is his most-used and most-effective offspeed offering.
Jurado is a 23-year-old right-hander and part of the younger contingent in the Rangers’ rotation. In 112.2 innings split between the rotation and bullpen, he has a 5.19 ERA, which is good for a 99 ERA+ in this run environment and pitching his home games in Texas.
The right-hander has a low strikeout rate and allows a well-above-average 88.8 avg. exit velocity as well as a high hard-hit rate. He throws five pitches, leading with a low-90s sinker and fastball, before mixing in a slider, change and curve.
Jurado faced the Yankees last year and gave up four home runs to players not on the active roster: Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Miguel Andujar and Neil Walker.
Wednesday (6:35 p.m. EDT): TBD vs. Lance Lynn (vs. Yankees)
Remember Lance Lynn? The Yankees had the right-hander for the final two months of last season before he joined the Rangers on a three-year deal in the offseason. He comes into today with the best Fangraphs pitching WAR in baseball thanks to sterling peripherals while pitching in Texas.
Lynn has a 3.77 ERA compared to a 3.01 FIP as he’s struck out 202 and walked 50 in 176.2 innings. He leads the AL in batters faced and has been a workhorse, all while limiting homers. In all, he’s the same fastball-heavy pitcher he was with the Yankees, just more effective with higher velocity.
The right-hander uses variations of high-spin fastball about 85 percent of the time with occasional curves and changeups.
Here’s who they have in the pen:
RHPs: Emmanuel Clase, Luke Farrell, Ian Gibaut, Taylor Guerrieri, Jonathan Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Rafael Montero, Adrian Sampson LHPs: Brett Martin, Jeffrey Springs
Shawn Kelley leads the team in saves with 11 while the team traded relievers Jose Leclerc and Chris Martin. Chavez is out for the season, while LHP Brett Martin leads active Rangers in games pitched out of the bullpen.
The guy to watch is Emmanuel Clase, a 21-year-old flamethrower with a 3.46 ERA. He averages 99 mph on his fastball, which is often a cutter, and backs it up with a 91-mph slider. He’s far from a finished product and doesn’t have elite strikeout rates yet, but the stuff is electric. Here’s a glimpse of a 100-mph cutter.
The rest of the bullpen? They needed a full bullpen game yesterday, so they’re going to be tired. There aren’t really any other standouts in the bullpen right now and there’s a whole bunch of them with Sept. call-ups.