With 20 percent of the season complete, the Rangers are doing OK

Posted Thursday, May. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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galloway Twenty percent of the season has been completed, a pressure-packed series opens Friday in Houston, a key ingredient just went on the disabled list, once blue-chip pieces for future trades have faded and the outlook for the Texas Rangers at this point is:

Pretty darn good, actually.

Could be better, but better than it might have been, considering the Harry situation.

When a guy — in this case, Matt Harrison — who has won a combined 32 games the past two seasons, went under the knife a mere three weeks into April, upheaval immediately hit the rotation.

Rotation hits can be kill shots. See Weaver, Jered, in Anaheim. Not that I’m comparing Harrison’s loss to Weaver going down for the Angels, but it’s at least in the same zip code.

The Rangers’ rotation, however, has held up anyway. Therefore, the Rangers have also held up.

But catcher A.J. Pierzynski was placed on the DL this week, and because of the nature of his injury (strained oblique muscle), it might be a month before he’s back. Two weeks is the optimistic view, so we’ll stick with that timetable for now.

With his veteran status, and his rather direct approach in communicating, Pierzynski has been a direct link to the steady nature of the Rangers’ pitching, or at least it seems that way to watch-the-damn-game me. And the numbers also indicate such.

Catching is not a position of strength for the Rangers, either here or in the minors, which is why the 36-year-old A.J. is in Arlington to start with. Until he’s back, it will be interesting to watch the results.

But at the 20 percent mark of the season — meaning the horses are still in the first turn with a long way to run — the preliminary positives are front-loaded.

First things first, there’s the division outlook. The AL West family was being proclaimed six weeks ago as the best overall group in baseball. Outside of the Rangers, that was a vast overestimation, at least at this point.

With the Angels totally Joshed-out, the A’s are simply treading along, and Seattle is showing no signs of being “this year’s Oakland.” As we discovered last September, much can change, and change in a hurry, but the evaluation at the 20 percent mark is what we’re dealing with.

Houston, of course, has joined up in the West, and, actually, that was not a poking-fun situation in labeling this weekend’s series “pressure-packed.” The Astros are so pathetic, divisional foes don’t look at that team in the normal way of let’s win two out of three in a series.

A sweep is needed. Sweeps are difficult. But it’s almost a guarantee the AL West club that piles up the most Ws against the Astros will eventually win the West. Oakland, for example, has an 18-18 record overall, but is 6-0 against Houston this season.

Speaking of the Angels, they just lost two of three to the Astros in Houston.

But beyond the divisional outlook, here’s the way it’s also gone for the Rangers:

Bounce Backs.

No. 1, Derek Holland has ditched his Harry Caray impersonation. He’s got a new act. It’s called Good Pitcher. Seven starts so far, and six of them were winnable performances. Two of them were very good. Stepped up, big-time, when Harry went down.

No. 2, Ian Kinsler, with all that talent, should have been ashamed of his 2012 season. Apparently, he was. He’s back with a vengeance. Still drives you nuts around second at times, but when the bat is booming it’s easier to move on.

No. 3, Mitch Moreland is the nice kid who hit the ditch last season and appeared to be stuck there again in April. But line drives are coming off that bat of late, including against lefties. Maybe inspired by Chris Davis, who lost it here and then found it in Baltimore.

Overall, it’s been a lineup that has struggled at times with run production, but it’s a better lineup than it’s shown, and will be now that Adrian Beltre is starting to crank.

Nice Surprises.

No. 1, would be a tie between Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm, who stepped in out of nowhere to co-anchor the bottom of the rotation. Some slippage of late by Tepesch has some wondering about the quick return of Martin Perez. Not me. Tepesch and Grimm have already accomplished more at the major league level than Perez.

The “wait” is really about Colby Lewis, and his return is probably the first week of June.

No. 2, Tanner Scheppers is showing out of the bullpen that the long wait for him to prosper was worth it. Along with Robbie Ross, the suspect bullpen has become a strength.

No. 3, Yu Davish does not fit in this category, but it’s a surprise to some, at least what I’m reading nationally, that he’s already a candidate for best pitcher in baseball.

Get Back to Me Later.

No. 1, Jurickson Profar.

No. 2, Mike Olt.

No. 3, Cody Buckel.

No. 4, Others.

There’s a legit theory that GM Jon Daniels will pick up the phone at some point this season and swing a major deal by dangling top prospects as trade inducements.

At the moment, however, that’s a no call. Things are going so badly for Olt and Buckel they are off the trade board.

Profar started very slow at Triple A, but he’s only 20, and the bat is starting to hum some. Had three hits Wednesday night for Round Rock, and the average is up over the .240 mark for the first time.

But again, Profar needs to be lighting up Round Rock if he’s going to be prime trade material, if, that is, what the Rangers eventually do with the kid.

Overall, however, the Rangers’ status at this point is pretty darn good. Which is pretty darn good considering everything.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM. Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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