The Texas Rangers won 18 games in May due in large part to their key pieces (Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo) getting going on the offensive side of the ball. They are 4.5 games back of the AL West leading Houston Astros, and are playing the best ball of the season.
The question that Rangers fans need to be asking themselves is, “Do we have a pitching staff capable of making a run at the playoffs?” The answer… not right now. The current pitching staff has an ERA of 4.07 which is simply too high. You can’t allow an average of four runs per game in the majors and expect to be successful. Consider the stats of the teams that made the playoffs in 2014:
NL Playoff Teams:
Pittsburgh: 3.47ERA, 1.26 WHIP 631 Runs Allowed.*
San Francisco: 3.50 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 614 Runs Allowed.*
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 617 Runs Allowed.*
St. Louis: 3.50 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 603 Runs Allowed.*
Washington: 3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 555 Runs Allowed.*
AL Playoff Teams:
Kansas City: 3.51 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 624 Runs Allowed.*
Oakland: 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 572 Runs Allowed.*
Los Angeles Angels: 3.58 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 630 Runs Allowed.*
Baltimore: 3.43 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 593 Runs Allowed.*
Detroit: 4.01 ERA, 1.33, 705 Runs Allowed.*
*Includes earned and unearned runs.
Now let’s consider the 2015 Texas Rangers: (numbers through 55 games.)
4.07 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 246 Runs Allowed.
The team’s earned run average is a little high. In fact, the only team with an ERA even close to that of the Rangers’ current one was Detroit who got bounced in the Division Series against the Orioles. More than that though, the runs allowed is high. The Rangers rank 14th out of 15 AL teams in errors (48) and in fielding percentage (.976). The amount of pressure that puts on a pitching staff that already isn’t very deep equates to half a run worse per game than that of the playoff teams from a year ago.
There have been some bright spots on the mound for the Rangers this season, especially with the two best pitchers on the staff being injured. Yovani Gallardo (3.54 ERA) and Colby Lewis (4.48 ERA) have been good for the Rangers in some tough games this season. Also, don’t let Lewis’ ERA deter you from the major point. The team wins when he pitches.
While there is plenty of offense to go around in North Texas, the thing people should be looking at isn’t how many runs the team is scoring, but how many runs the pitching staff and the defense are giving up. Based on the numbers from the team so far this year, and looking at other successful teams from a year ago, it is hard to say at this juncture that the Rangers will be good enough as a staff to make a run for the playoffs. Texas should be looking to add pitching at the approaching trade deadline, as they are only one game out of the wildcard (I know, way too early to talk about the wildcard.) Even though they are still in the thick of things at this time if they don’t do something quickly this could get out of hand.