Although the thermometer hasn’t gotten much relief, August has been much kinder to the Texas Rangers than July. So far, Texas is 6-2—just three wins shy of last month’s total—and they have been averaging the most runs scored in the American League (tied with the San Francisco Giants for most in Major League Baseball with 59).
And as the calendar pushes closer to the end of the regular season, the Rangers’ bats have been heating up at the best possible time.
What better way to gear up for the stretch-run, and its inherent playoff-implications, than in a rematch of last year’s American League Championship Series?
Detroit Tigers (60-52) L10: 6-4
CF Austin Jackson
LF Andy Dirks
3B Miguel Cabrera*
1B Prince Fielder
RF Brennan Boesch
DH Delmon Young
C Alex Avila
SS Jhonny Peralta
2B Omar Infante
*Over the last five years, Cabrera is batting .700 with two home runs off of Feldman.
RHP Scott Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9)
Since the All-Star Break, Feldman has easily been the Rangers’ best starter, going 3-0 with a remarkable 1.19 earned run average. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, the Hawaiian-born righty was 0-6 with an ERA north of seven less than two months ago.
Consider this: Feldman’s three wins during the dreadful month of July were 33% of the team’s total wins. Whoa boy.
Over his last five years, Feldman is 0-2 with a god-awful 8.68 ERA and equally unsightly 2.42 WHIP. However, those numbers exclude the postseason, and Feldman was the Game 2 winner of last year’s ALCS against the Tigers. He pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-hit ball in relief while striking out 5 and walking none.
At home, Scooter is at his best as he is 4-3 with a sparkling 2.81 ERA. Right-handed batters are batting .287 with 4 homers off of him, while lefties are hitting .252 with 5 long balls.
Texas Rangers (65-45) L10: 6-4
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Michael Young
LF David Murphy
C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland
RHP Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.72, 1.41 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)
It truly isn’t a stretch to state that Scherzer might just have better pure “stuff” than his fellow teammate and last year’s A.L. MVP and Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander.
Like the Rangers’ Yu Darvish, what’s keeping Scherzer from being an elite TORP (top of the rotation pitcher), is his lack of command.
All you need to know about Scherzer’s arsenal can be gleaned from taking a peek at his strikeout per nine innings rate. 11.3! That’s absolutely ludicrous. That would be high for an elite closer. Again, like Darvish, sometimes the sheer electricity of his offerings makes them hard to control, and his walk totals reflect that…the end result of that is he’s behind in the count and forces a pitch into the zone for a strike, and then gets thwacked. In that aforementioned scenario, Scherzer is like Holland minus the ADD.
In his career against Texas, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA, and a 1.27 WHIP. This does not take into consideration his 0-1 record and 9.27 ERA after his ALCS Game 2 thrashing that came largely at the hands of Nelson Cruz.
Scherzer has been slightly better at home (4-2, 4.42) than on the road (6-4, 4.94) and has gone 2-1 with a 4.75 ERA since the All-Star Break of a month ago. Scherzer is susceptible to the long ball from both right-handers and left-handers, as each side has 10 against him in 2012. Righties (.219) fair far worse overall than lefties (.307) against his excellent stuff that features a mid-to-high 90s heater.
As we all know, the Rangers are a fastball-hitting team that sometimes struggles with junk-ballers. Scherzer is certainly a hard-thrower and should he struggle with his control, Texas might just jump on him early.