Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: The first 50 games are done, but Hamels doesn't appear to be

Joey Gallo doesn't think he'll do the Home Run Derby in July should he be asked to participate.

It would be fun for fans across baseball, but Gallo knows it would potentially put an even larger hole in his swing than the won he's current dealing with.

He does have two months to change his mind, but it sure didn't seem like he was interested in the event when asked Tuesday.

The guy genuinely believes he isn't the .197 hitter his average says he is. Adrian Beltre believes that Gallo can hit .300. Gallo is working to prove him right.

It was a tough one for him Tuesday, though a good one for the Texas Rangers.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from a 6-4 victory over the New York Yankees.

1. Cole Hamels hadn't pitched in 11 days thanks to some neck stiffness that came at a bad time for the left-hander.

He had started to get rolling, having allowed no more than two earned runs in four of his previous five starts. Hamels is well-known as a pitcher who doesn't like an extra day's rest, not to mention 10 days' rest.

But he looked as sharp as he has all season against the potent Yankees lineup, which got him for two solo homers in seven innings. Maybe the rest helped, as manager Jeff Banister believes it did, or maybe Hamels is right where he normally is.

Hamels' track record shows typical sluggish starts to a season, but steady improvement and more velocity as he builds arm strength and his body gets used to the MLB grind.

"That's Cole," Banister said.

Hamels said it, too, and the numbers through 10 starts also say it. He allowed 39 hits in 39 2/3 March and April innings and pitched to a 4.08 ERA. So far in May, in three starts, Hamels has allowed 10 hits in 19 innings while pitching to a 1.89 ERA.

His fastest pitch, 93.6 mph, came in his final inning.

If he was auditioning for a potential July 31 trade to the Yankees, he nailed it.

"No, it's May," Hamels said. "There's a lot of baseball. A lot of things can happen. It's just a matter of going out and playing baseball. I have a job to do and it's to win here. This is where I wanted to be.

"A lot of young guys here definitely need to try to be more of a leader and teach them the facets of the game, it's kind of what my focus is right now. To win for these guys and this organization and these fans."

But he has been in the rumor mill before multiple times. One cycle actually culminated in a trade, in 2015 to the Rangers. He then helped them shoot past the Houston Astros for the American League West title.

"I’ve been in it before," he said. "I'm just here to play. Try to remain healthy and maintain what I can do out on the field. Enjoy playing the game of baseball. That’s really all I can care about. All the decisions are not up to me. It's what I’ve learned from previous experiences."

Hamels is in the final guaranteed year of his contract and is making $23.5 million this season. There would be around $11 million left on it in late July, plus a $20 million option for 2019 or a $6 million buyout.

Which teams could afford that kind of financial burden and have enough prospects to make a deal? Not many, but the Yankees very clearly are one of them.

Hamels' upward trend sure did hit a conveniently timed peak Tuesday.

2. The Rangers hit the 50-game mark Tuesday, and the win pushed them to 12 games under .500 and allowed them to stay 12 1/2 games behind the Astros in the AL West.

Yeesh.

Their team ERA of 4.80 is 12th in the 15-team AL.

Their .224 batting average is the worst in the majors, as is their .204 average with runners in scoring position.

Their disabled list has been one of the longest in the game.

That seems like the resume of a 19-31 team.

Beltre, who is on the DL for a second time this season, said that things are going to get better as the season drags on. In theory, with him and Elvis Andrus back in the lineup, the Rangers should improve.

But how many wins have their injuries cost the Rangers?

Not 12.

3. With the way the season has unfolded, with Ryan Rua again failing to hold onto the left-field job and Gallo being forced off first base to cover that spot and the Rangers 12 games below .500, first base looks to be Ronald Guzman's job to lose.

Here's betting he doesn't lose.

It's not just that he has homers in consecutive games to open the series. That helps, of course, as his average teeters around the Mendoza Line. But his defense has been excellent.

His error Monday wasn't pretty, and he admits that it was a bungled play on what should have been an inning-ending grounder but instead became a three-base error. But that was the first error of his career, and the early indications are there won't be many more.

He moves well at first for a big man. He has more experience there than Gallo, and it shows in how he receives the ball. It also helps the other three infielders to have a 6-foot-6 target with long arms at first.

The bat hasn't produce many hits, but they have been timely. The power is in there somewhere, as he showed with his mammoth shot Monday, but he isn't too keen on trying to force it out.

He's still developing and will be for a few seasons. But like Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Guzman has been a bright spot in a dismal first 50 games.



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