The Top 10 prospects in the Rangers organization
The eight-game losing streak that has seemingly sunk the Texas Rangers’ playoff hopes was caused by the same thing as any other eight-game losing streak.
All three facets of the game — offense, pitching and defense — fell apart at the same time.
The Rangers were outscored 69-26 during the slide.
But a contributing factor in all three falling flat might have been the uncertainty surrounding the trade deadline, which arrives Wednesday.
“I think it did,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I think that happens with any ballclub.”
The Rangers were eight games above .500 when the skid started, but they were still stuck in buyer-or-seller purgatory. They were still five games above .500 on July 17, when a rumor surfaced that Mike Minor was increasingly likely to be traded.
They lost that night to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 19-4, and lost four more before finally winning Tuesday.
Now, as the Rangers listen and pursue trades, they are also laying groundwork in case players are shipped out at the deadline. Some young players in the minors or shuttling back and forth could get extended looks over the final two months.
“The trade deadline is a way that things could change in a lot of ways or not at all,” Woodward said. “We’re trying to prepare for as many different scenarios as we can, so if this happens or this happens or this happens or that happens, at least we have an answer. There’s a lot of moving pieces until Aug. 1.”
Things were pretty much status quo Friday night at Oakland Coliseum, where the Rangers sent Lance Lynn to the mound to face the Oakland A’s in search of a second straight win.
Elvis Andrus was not in the lineup after spending Friday morning in Dallas to become a U.S. citizen. He was expected to join the club at some point after first pitch.
Minor is the player expected to be dealt before the deadline, though Lynn’s name has been mentioned in the rumor mill. Hunter Pence, Nomar Mazara and Danny Santana have also been floated as trade possibilities.
Only a few teams have called about Santana, a source said, and talks went nowhere.
In baseball, though, things always seem to happen at the 11th hour whenever a deadline is in place. Yu Darvish, for instance, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the buzzer in 2017.
The centerpiece of that package was Willie Calhoun, who is one of the players the Rangers will give an extended look if August and September turn into a tryout camp for 2020.
Recalled on Thursday to replace Joey Gallo on the active roster, Calhoun was in the starting lineup Friday and is likely to play against all right-handed pitchers. Woodward believes that Calhoun’s left-handed bat is ready for everyday duty, but the outfielder still has other areas that need improvement.
Expect him to get a chunk of everyday playing time rather than a quasi-platoon roll he has been in.
“At some point in the next two months, that will happen,” Woodward said.
Scott Heineman, the reigning Rangers Minor League Player of the Year, is also making a push to make his MLB debut over the final two months. He missed most of the first half of the season after off-season surgery on his left/non-throwing shoulder, but his average is pushing .400 at Triple A Nashville.
The Rangers gave the outfielder his first start a first base Thursday night in an effort to make him more versatile. His right-handed bat is also a fit on the big-league club, and the same goes for recently acquired second baseman Nick Solak.
“It gives us additional options to get him into the lineup in Nashville and eventually up here,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He plays some infield in college, but not in a while.”
Woodward said that he would like to see lefty Joe Palumbo, though he’s dealing with an injured left ankle, and another lefty, Brock Burke. The right-handed relief trio of Demarcus Evans, Emmanuel Clase and Joe Barlow are also good bets to pitch in the majors this season.
Barlow was recently promoted to Nashville, leaving behind the other four at Double A Frisco. Clase worked as an opener Thursday night, but that was done more so that the Rangers could look at righty Jonathan Hernandez as a multi-innings reliever.
But they won’t get a look if they can’t help win games.
“I’m not just going to see a guy to see a guy if I don’t think he can help us win,” Woodward said. “You get down to the last two months of the season, and the last month of the season, especially, it’s if I feel like this guy can help us win a game.”
The Rangers will know more about which direction they are headed Wednesday after the trade deadline passes.