The Rangers clinched the AL West division title on Saturday, and I am pumped. I have waited as long as I can remember for the Rangers to make the playoffs, and now it’s finally happening. I’m so excited, and I can’t wait for October. We have tickets for all of the Rangers playoff games and I’m hoping for a deep run. I’ve been to hundreds of games but have never been to a major league baseball playoff game.
This week I’ll analyze the probable match-up of the Rays that the Rangers have for the playoffs in the first round and also give my Rangers playoff roster.
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays:
Game 1: Texas Rangers 0 (Cliff Lee) at Tampa Bay Rays 0 (David Price)
I’ll give Lee the edge in this one, even though Price has had a better year, and the Rays are at home. Price has given up 3 runs in each of his last two starts, and has already thrown way more innings than ever before in his career. They both have postseason experience, and have both been great in the playoffs, but Price did it while coming out of the bullpen. Last year, Cliff Lee had a 1.56 postseason ERA, including a 1.10 divisional round ERA, and went 4-0. In 2008, David Price had a 1.59 ERA during the playoffs, but only pitched 5.2 innings, so has a small sample. In his one game against the Rangers this year, David Price allowed 2 runs over 6 innings of work. This one should be a very close, low-scoring game, but I’m going to say that the Rangers lead the series 1-0 after the game.
Game 2: Texas Rangers 1 (CJ Wilson) at Tampa Bay Rays 0 (Matt Garza)
So far this year, CJ has been much better than Garza, with a 14-7 record, and a 3.15 ERA, while Garza is 15-9, with an ERA just under 4.00, at 3.92. However, in Garza’s last start against the Rangers, he threw 7 shut-out innings, and in CJ’s only game against the Rays, he allowed 3 earned runs over only 5 innings. But I still give CJ the edge, with Matt Garza having a horrendous September, with a 6.41 ERA in the month. He wasn’t exactly sharp in the ’08 playoffs, either, as Garza had an ERA of 6.00 or more in 2 of his 4 playoff starts, including his divisional series start. So with Garza’s recent play, and his past postseason play, I’ll give the Rangers the win here, too.
Game 3: Tampa Bay Rays 0 (James Shields) at Texas Rangers 2 (Tommy Hunter)
I think that Tommy Hunter is a much better pitcher than Shields in this one, but I worry about his youth. I’ll still give him the win, though, as his ERA is 1.13 points better than Shields’ ERA, which is an awful 4.96, including a 6.86 ERA in his last four starts. Shields also leads the American League in home runs allowed. Tommy Hunter pitched very well in his only start against the Rays in which he wasn’t sick, allowing just one run in a complete game outing while pitching at home against them. So while I really didn’t think coming into this analysis that the Rangers would sweep the Rays, based on the three pitching match-ups, I predict that they will. I think that the Rangers have the edge in all three games pitching-wise.
Result: Texas Rangers 3, Tampa Bay Rays 0
My Playoff Roster:
C – Bengie Molina: He is one of the top two catchers on the team as far as playing time, so I don’t see him being left off.
C – Matt Treanor: Has done his job this year, and is solid defensively. I see him possibly splitting the time with Bengie.
1B – Jorge Cantu: Can play first and third, and still has the potential to be a good hitter.
1B – Chris Davis: He can be on the roster as an injury replacement and is hitting very well. Could split 1B time with Cantu in playoffs.
2B – Ian Kinsler: Our obvious starting second baseman.
SS – Elvis Andrus: No question about it.
3B – Michael Young: Who else?
UTIL – Andres Blanco: Showed he deserved it while Kinsler was injured, and I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be on the roster here.
OF – Josh Hamilton: Hopefully he’ll be ready to go.
OF – Vladimir Guerrero: Big contributor, no question.
OF – Nelson Cruz: Assuming he doesn’t have any more hamstring problems.
OF – David Murphy: Has done a great job filling in for injuries, with .288 average and 11 HR’s.
OF – Julio Borbon: Solid this year, and we need the speed.
OF – Jeff Francoeur: Has been very good as Ranger,batting .299 against lefties. Definitely worth the spot.
SP – Cliff Lee: He’s our ace.
SP – CJ Wilson: 3.15 ERA. Enough said.
SP – Tommy Hunter: He’s our number three guy, ERA in the 3.00’s.
SP – Colby Lewis: 3.79 ERA. Don’t want just a three-man playoff rotation, too risky.
Closer – Neftali Feliz: Could have 40 saves by the end of the year, and should win ROY.
RP – Darren O’Day: 1.98 ERA.
RP – Alexi Ogando: 1.36 ERA.
RP – Darren Oliver: 2.52 ERA.
RP – Matt Harrison: Has done a nice job in long relief.
RP – Dustin Nippert: 0.77 ERA since coming back from injury.
RP – Michael Kirkman: 0.71 ERA since getting called up. Possible lefty specialist, but also has .050 batting average against with righties at the plate.
Come back next week for more playoff analysis - the Rangers/Yankees matchups if the standings change and a position-by-position analysis of the Rangers’ playoff opponent.