Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 8:35 PM
Tonight the Texas Rangers host the Detroit Tigers in a game to be nationally televised by ESPN. The matchup is noteworthy for several reasons. Texas is the two-time defending AL champion, and is currently on pace to coast into the playoffs again. Detroit is back in the AL Central race after a disappointing start. And, Roy Oswalt is making his second appearance for the Rangers when it looked earlier that his career might have ended.
But, there’s a developing story we’re watching closely that nobody’s talking about. That’s because nobody’s seeing it! And, frankly, we may be making too much of it ourselves. The deal is…the Texas Rangers may actually be dealing with a sustained slump that was hidden by a very easy Interleague schedule.
This year…Texas drew the NL West in Interleague action. Except, they always get a home-and-home with their “rivals” in Houston. This year, Houston is once again a terrible team. And, the LA Dodgers…the best team in the NL West…weren’t on the slate because they were involved with a home-and-home against the Angels.
Here’s what Texas did vs. the National League:
5-1 vs. horrible Houston
3-0 vs. even more horrible San Diego
2-1 vs. horrible Colorado
2-1 vs. Arizona
2-1 vs. San Francisco
No complaints about those last two. San Francisco is a likely playoff team. And, Arizona has been playing better lately even if they’re not destined to reach the postseason (too early to tell). But, that 10-2 run against Houston, San Diego, and Colorado was basically a gift from the heavens. While everyone in the AL East was facing a tough schedule…and while the Angels were dealing with the Dodgers…Texas was basically playing a bunch of exhibition scrimmages against minor league teams.
This MATTERS because:
Texas went 1-3 vs. Oakland before the busy IL slate
Texas went 1-2 vs. the LA Angels before that
Texas went 1-2 vs. struggling Seattle before that
Texas was routed in their first game back vs. the AL Monday Night by Detroit
Texas is 14-19 in its last 33 games vs. AL teams!
The Rangers had a very hot start this year. And, they’re certifiably better than the worst teams in the National League (which is perhaps once again a glorified Quadruple A league based on their submissiveness the past two weeks). But…there’s evidence that the team ISN’T a juggernaut in AL terms right now. The structure of the recent schedule has helped hide that.
The biggest problem for Texas has involved the health and consistency of their rotation.
*Derek Holland is making rehab starts in the minors as he tries to come back from shoulder fatigue. He was struggling this year anyway, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be effective when he returns.
*Neftali Perez has been out with elbow problems, and won’t return until after the All-Star Break even if he is able to come back at full strength.
*Yu Darvish hasn’t been quite the unhittable force the Rangers were hoping for. That’s also been hidden some by a couple of good starts vs. the horrible Padres and Astros. Versus teams in the AL West this year, Darvish has an ERA of 6.75. If they’ve figured him out already, what’s going to happen during the second half of the season?
The only reason Roy Oswalt is getting a shot here is because the original plans for the rotation haven’t gone as planned. And, that Monday Night debacle in the first game back to the AL slate featured youngster Justin Grimm. He gave up six runs in the first inning to Detroit.
Nobody could say the sky is falling. Nobody could say the dam is breaking. But, there are some red flags here that should concern Rangers fans. The team has a losing record within the AL over an extended period now (again…14-19 their last 33 games vs. AL teams). And, they’ve been forced into some gambles with the pitching rotation they didn’t figure they’d have to make. Compounding matters, the Los Angeles Angels have been playing very well for weeks. They may be the best team in the AL West at the moment, regardless of what the standings say.
If Oswalt is able to capture anything near his peak form of old, then that’s found money and the Rangers will probably be fine down the stretch. He did fare well vs. Colorado in his Texas debut. But, that’s Colorado. Detroit brings a much better offense to the plate (once you’ve adjusted for park effect pollution). Should Oswalt struggle…then we’re looking at a guy who may just be an innings muncher at best in a great hitter’s park during the heat of the summer.
In our view, it’s very important to try and get a good read on the Rangers right now because the market is pricing them like a juggernaut rather than like a team that’s been below .500 vs. the AL for more than a month’s worth of games. Be sure you stay on top of this potentially developing story.
JIM HURLEY’S on top of EVERY developing story! That Tigers-Rangers game may be part of the Wednesday mix. Be aware that we have day and night sessions today that you should try to exploit with smart money management.
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON HIGHLIGHTS
Milwaukee at Cincinnati (Reds trying to stay on top of NL Central)
NY Mets at Chicago Cubs (Mets are in the Wildcard mix)
LA Dodgers at San Francisco (rivalry even bigger this year)
Cleveland at NY Yankees (both in divisional races)
Toronto at Boston (seasons may be in the balance now for both)
WEDNESDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (each needs to win)
Arizona at Atlanta (possible Wildcard teams?)
LA Angels at Baltimore (same here!)
Detroit at Texas (Tigers on the prowl)
This is shaping up as a WILD WEDNESDAY in the bases. Be sure you link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK here at the website. Selections will be up early because of the afternoon schedule. Seasonal rates that offer the most bang for your buck are available. If the quality of the information permits, HURLEY clients will win early, then let those winnings ride in later action to exploit the money management potential that comes with many midweek sessions. Don’t you love baseball?!
If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about football when you call! The dollars of August multiply themselves over several times from Preseason action through the Super Bowl. The more money you make early…the more money you make when it’s all said and done. And, taking advantage of early-bird offers means you save big money up front. That helps you pyramid your profits even more! College football is talking about a playoff. The NFL Network is worrying about morning television. JIM HURLEY is focused on BEATING THE LINE once the games begin!
Back with you Thursday when we have early liftoffs for several marquee series like NY Mets/LA Dodgers, Cincinnati/San Francisco, and Chicago White Sox/NY Yankees. Those could all be playoff previews!
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