Series Preview #11: Talking Rangers with Lone Star Ball

Forget about the fact that we've missed the last several series previews by enjoying this casual chat about the Rangers.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
14-16 (4th place, NL Central)
TEXAS RANGERS
20-11 (1st place, AL West)

GAME 1: May 7, 2013 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 2
: May 8, 2013 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

Miller Park | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A View from the Other Dugout: Lone Star Ball

Game 1 Wily Peralta (2-2, 6.00) vs. Justin Grimm (2-1, 2.88)
vs. Rangers (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 2 Kyle Lohse (1-3, 3.16) vs. Derek Holland (2-2, 2.74)
vs. Rangers (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)


As the Brewers and Rangers prepare for a weird two-game midweek set in Milwaukee, we talked to Adam Morris of Lone Star Ball about his team and this series.

BCB: This is a Rangers team that entered play Monday with an AL-best 3.02 ERA and four starting pitchers with ERAs at or under 3.08. Is this team's pitching for real?

LSB: I don't think the Rangers starting pitching will continue putting up the an ERA close to three, but I do think that the starting pitching is something that can continue to be a strength of the team. Yu Darvish is Yu Darvish, of course, a guy who, after spending a year adjusting to the majors in 2012, looks poised to establish himself as one of the elite pitchers in the game. Derek Holland has shown flashes off and on throughout his career, and by going to his changeup more often this season, he's gotten off to a great start, one that has people thinking this may be the year he actually reaches his potential. The rest of the rotation right now consists of converted reliever Alexi Ogando and rookies Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm, and all three have been terrific to start the season. If those three can pitch respectably until Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison return from injury -- and they've done much better than that so far -- the Rangers should be in great shape as far as the rotation goes.

BCB: Barring a late change, on Tuesday the Brewers will face 24-year-old righty Justin Grimm for the first time. What can you tell us about him?

LSB: Justin Grimm was a fifth round pick out of the University in Georgia in 2010. The Rangers signed him to a signing bonus of $850,000 -- well over slot, and more like the bonus a supplemental first rounder would normally get. Grimm was considered a guy with great stuff whose college results didn't match the potential (he had a 5.80 ERA as a collegian), and the high bonus was to keep Grimm from trying to return to college and increase his stock. Grimm has already brought a return on their investment in him. After splitting the 2011 season between low-A and high-A, Grimm pitched at AA, AAA and the majors in 2012, and came into the 2013 season as the co-favorite (with Martin Perez) to win the #5 starter job that was expected to be vacant until Colby Lewis returned from injury. Grimm had a poor spring, but got a second chance when Matt Harrison went on the d.l. after his second start, and has pitched very well while filling in for Harrison. Grimm's repertoire is a low-90s fastball that can get up to 95 or so occasionally, as well as a curveball that is a swing-and-miss pitch and changeup. He's someone who is viewed as having mid-rotation potential because of the velocity on the fastball and the about of his curve to induce whiffs.

BCB: Looking at the roster, this Rangers team has regulars on the plus side of 30 at catcher, second base, third base, left field, right field and DH. Is this a team that could wear down as the year goes along, and are they in position to compete long-term with this roster?

LSB: One of the key criticisms of Ron Washington's handling of last year's Ranger club was that he rode his regulars too hard (five players appeared in at least 156 games, while David Murphy appeared in 147 games and Josh Hamilton appeared in 148), which led to the team wearing down late in the season and leading to the historic collapse we saw. Wash has acknowledge that he probably should have gotten his regulars more rest last season, but so far this season, the playing time hasn't been much different, as Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland have appeared in every game, Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus have appeared in 30 of 31 games, David Murphy has appeared in 29 games, and 36 year old catcher A.J. Pierzynski has appeared in 26 games. Wash will often defer to his veterans if they don't want a day off, and I've got some concern that we could see this team wear out much as it did last season.

BCB: Elvis Andrus is a young shortstop a lot of teams would probably like to have, but he entered play Monday hitting just .246/.286/.302 in his first 30 games. What's the issue with him, and at what point does the fanbase start to clamor for Jurickson Profar to replace him?

LSB: Elvis has not gotten off to a good start, but he's hitting the ball better than his slash line would suggest. He has a .290 BABIP despite a LD rate of almost 23%, and with his speed and that sort of line drive percentage, you'd expect a much higher BABIP. There's been a fair amount of discussion on LSB that Elvis appears to be hitting the ball hard, but he's had numerous balls end up going right to fielders, and that's the sort of thing you'd expect to even out over the course of a season. While fans are enthusiastic about Jurickson, Elvis is a fan favorite, and he just signed that big extension that will keep him in Texas for at least the next six years. The calls to bring up Profar usually are from those who want him installed at second base, with Ian Kinsler either moved to another position or traded. Of course, with Elvis's new extension, there's also talk from the fans that Profar should be dangled to try to acquire David Price or Giancarlo Stanton.

BCB: Finally, this is stop two of a weird road trip for the Rangers with a single game in Chicago (making up a postponement) and two in Milwaukee before heading on to Houston and eventually Oakland. Later in the month the Rangers also play a scheduled day/night doubleheader in Arizona. Has there been any talk about how these weird schedule quirks will impact the team?

LSB: The Rangers played a night game in Anaheim a couple of weeks ago on Wednesday, which they then followed up with a 4 game set in Minnesota with no off-day in-between. The Rangers got into Minneapolis at 6:30 a.m. the day of their first game, and ended up splitting the series while looking slugging and sloppy throughout...there's some belief that the travel schedule and overnight flight contributed to that. The Rangers have a weird schedule the next week or two, but the travel really isn't too grueling, and if there aren't any more rain delays (some suggested Texas never really mentally or physically got over dealing with multiple rain-delays in a late September series at home against the Angels last year), I think Texas should be fine.

Thanks to Adam for taking the time, and check out Lone Star Ball for more on the Rangers!

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