The Rangers will host the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series, with last-place Texas knowing that its playoff chances are all but hopeless.
With six consecutive losses, Texas (13-27) is 7 1/2 games out of a playoff position. The Angels (17-25) are 4 1/2 games back in the postseason race.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward has been trying to find a happy medium between utilizing players who have “earned” playing time and starting younger players with an eye toward the future.
Most recently, Woodward has stuck with Shin-Soo Choo, despite Choo’s questionable future with the club — he’s 38 and in the final year of his contract. Choo had been hitting well of late and was rewarded by Woodward, starting 11 consecutive games either in the outfield or as the designated hitter.
In his past five games, including Texas’ 8-4 loss at Seattle on Monday, Choo has six hits in 15 at-bats, including two home runs.
However, Choo sprained his right wrist on Monday when sliding head-first into home, scoring on a double by Joey Gallo. X-rays were negative, but his availability moving forward was not known. He was replaced Monday by Eli White, who went 0-for-2 and is now hitless in his first 14 major league at-bats.
Even so, it seems White will get a good look in the club’s final 20 games. At the same time, Woodward wants to be careful not to put too much pressure on players such as White, who are trying to establish themselves at the major league level.
“It’s not going to be do or die,” Woodward said. “I just want to see their mentality, how they handle the day-to-day preparation and the at-bats.”
The Rangers are preparing for a Tuesday matchup with Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, a pitcher they have hit well. Heaney (3-2, 3.89 ERA) is 2-4 with a 5.28 ERA in 11 career starts versus Texas, including a loss this season when he allowed five runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings on Aug. 9.
Heaney, however, is coming off consecutive stellar performances. On Aug. 28 against the Mariners, he gave up one run on four hits and two walks while striking out 10 in 7 2/3 innings. And then in his most recent start, Heaney shut out the San Diego Padres for seven innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out six on Thursday.
“Again, this guy can pitch with his fastball,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “In the world of off-speed pitches, he’s got a really good fastball. It’s deceptive, it’s quick, it gets on the hitter. He’s learning how to use it even more now, and I believe that that makes the other pitches better. This guy is a bit old-school, man.”
Lance Lynn, 4-2 with a 2.67 ERA in nine starts, has been Texas’ best starter this season by far. He’s the only regular Rangers starter with a winning record and the only one with an ERA under 5.00.
He has pitched at least six innings in all but one start, which came in his only appearance against the Angels. Lynn, though, still got a victory, giving up two runs and four hits in five innings on Aug. 9.
Lynn is 3-2 with a 3.92 ERA in seven career starts vs. Los Angeles. Angels center fielder Mike Trout is 5-for-20 with two homers in his career against Lynn.
–Field Level Media