by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
October 14, 2010
Records - Rangers
Runs Scored - Rangers
Runs Allowed - Rangers
The Texas Rangers have been knocked out by the New York Yankees in all three
of their trips to the postseason and currently ride a nine-game playoff losing
streak to the Yanks. If that sounds familiar, it's because the Minnesota
Twins entered their Division Series in the exact same boat and left sunk after
three games. Of course, the Twins' losing streak has come more recently
than the streak for Texas, whose postseason experience all comes from the late
You may wonder how relevant such a streak is to the 2010 season, but it is
actually more relevant than you might expect. Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter,
and Mariano Rivera each played in all three of those series wins, while Jorge
Posada played in the final two. None of the Texas players they faced then
are on the 2010 Rangers, but those four Yankees should exude a confidence that
spreads through the clubhouse.
The Texas Rangers' 39-42 record away from Arlington became 42-42 after every
game of the Rangers/Rays ALDS was won by the visiting team. They showed that
they could play small ball, basically winning game five on the strength of
aggressive baserunning. They could still hit the longball a bit, though,
cranking out eight homers against Tampa. They showed that they could pitch
well by shattering the previous record of 49 strikeouts in an LDS by fanning 55
Rays in five games.
Oh, and they have this Cliff Lee guy who seems to be pretty good in the
One problem with having the Division Series linger for five games, though, is
that Lee will not be able to pitch until game three of the Championship Series.
That doesn't devastate the Rangers, since he would have pitched twice either way
and this puts him as the man to pitch another pressure-packed finale should the
series last seven games. But it does put neophyte starter C.J. Wilson
pitching game one against C.C. Sabathia and create other interesting mismatches
throughout the series.
The Yankees will go with Andy Pettitte as their potential
game seven starter, as he has somehow duped Joe Girardi and
the rest of the world into believing he is a big game
pitcher. Actually, Joe, Cliff Lee's 1.44 postseason
ERA makes him a big game pitcher; Pettitte's 3.87 mark is
almost identical to his regular season ERA of 3.88.
Still, Pettitte is no worse of a choice for game seven
than Phil Hughes, the only other reasonable candidate for
the job. The bigger cause for concern in the rotation
is A.J. Burnett, who will be pitching on 17 days of rest and
has more losses and a higher regular season ERA than any
postseason pitcher in recent memory. Even the 1995
Rockies didn't start a pitcher with a 5-plus ERA in their
LDS (Brett Saberhagen did have a 6.28 ERA in nine starts
with Colorado, but it was 4.18 for the year). If
Burnett makes an early departure in game four, that will
stretch a bullpen that was super thin even before Kerry
Wood's game three meltdown.
This is nitpicking, of course. The Yankees are the better team, the
more experienced team, the more rested team, and the team that was more dominant
in the first round of the postseason. Their offense has bailed their
pitching out of rough spots all season, and it is hard to see the Rangers'
pitching being the ones to finally stop that trend.
The Rangers do have the second-best bullpen ERA in the
American League, even though you might not have guessed that
had you watched them blow the lead in game three of the ALDS.
Why Derek Holland and Dustin Nippert are even on the
postseason roster, I do not know, but the fact that they
were used in such a key situation is unfathomable given the
plethora of superior options in the Rangers' pen. Now they
want to add Clay Rapada - a lefty specialist with just one
more strikeout than walk for his career - into the mix. The
point is, with their top five relievers, the Rangers might
actually be able to hold down an inevitably Yankees rally.
But Ron Washington has made a "terrible mistake" before and
with three bad options in the bullpen, we can't be sure that
he won't make another that costs him the LCS.
Washington is also the man responsible for instilling a smallball style of
play in these Rangers, as they led the AL in sacrifice hits and finished fifth
in stolen bases. That smallball won them the series against the Rays.
If you think the Rays were embarrassed by Texas running all over them in game
five, imagine how the Yankees will feel with both of their catchers having been
unable even to gun down anything in Duck Hunt during the regular season.
This evens out the Mariano Rivera advantage a bit in close games, but there
aren't likely to be too many low-scoring affairs in these two hitter-friendly
Really, this series comes down to whether Texas can win one of the first two
games at home. If not, the Yankees' confidence will overwhelm them the
rest of the way. If so, the Rangers have such favorable pitching matchups
in games three, four, and seven that New York would have a very hard time
prevailing overall. Even though the pitching matchups in games one
and two heavily favor the Yankees, the Rangers were 51-30 at home in the regular
season and have a decent shot of winning one of two games there, even though
they could not do so against the Tampa Bay Road Warriors.
In the end, the Rangers just need to win Cliff Lee's starts, then two of the
remaining five games. That sounds like a pretty reasonable scenario,
Prediction: Rangers in Seven
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.