Having lost two out of three to the Athletics in what was, really, an ugly weekend series, the Mariners head down to Texas for a big four-game set against the Rangers. The M's will hope to get the bats going again upon returning to warmer climates.
The Rangers, like the Mariners, are looking up in the standings at the Athletics. While this will serve as the biggest reality check yet for a decimated Mariners rotation, the Rangers are starting to get some of their horses back as Colby Lewis will start tonight for the first time since 2012.
CO: Coming into the season, the Rangers were dealing with injuries striking their rotation pretty hard—what are your thoughts on how the starters have fared?
AM: I'd say the rotation has done better than you would reasonably have expected. Joe Saunders got rocked, and Tanner Scheppers has been up and down, but Yu Darvish has not allowed a run, Martin Perez is building off of his very good rookie year, and Robbie Ross has exceeded expectations. Even Nick Martinez, who had 5 games above A ball before he was thrust into the rotation, was solid in his start. With Colby Lewis coming back today, and Matt Harrison due back in about 10 days, I think its fair to say the rotation has done a good job keeping things afloat while waiting for reinforcements.
CO: Let's talk a little bit about the new additions—first up, Shin-Soo Choo. How's he looked thus far?
AM: Shin-Soo Choo has been everything hoped for. He's seen a lot of pitches, worked counts, and gotten on base at the top of the lineup. There have been a couple of baserunning miscues, but overall, I think Choo has been what the Rangers were hoping for.
CO: Then, of course, we have Prince Fielder. The numbers haven't been pretty. Is there more than what they're showing, or is it as bad as it looks?
AM: While Choo has been as advertised, Prince Fielder has been very disappointing. While he's had better at bats the last few games, the numbers aren't lying...he's been awful so far, and hasn't shown off the power the Rangers were hoping they'd be getting. The Rangers bet big that Fielder's 2013 was an aberration, and he would bounce back strong this year...that hasn't happened yet. Its still early, but I've got concerns about Prince.
CO: Now, let's bounce back to the good. Many had Yu Darvish as the favorite to win the AL Cy Young. How's he look to you in comparison to the past two years?
AM: Yu Darvish looks like he did last year, maybe even better. He's been more efficient with his pitches, which has been a big issue for him the previous two years, and his actual performance has been as good as the numbers reflect. The one hit he gave up against the Astros in his last start was a bloop that fell in shallow center field, and you could probably count the hard hit balls off of him in that game on your thumbs. He's just been incredible, a treat to watch.
CO: Something that caught my attention recently was Jon Daniels' admission that the Matt Garza trade was a poor one—or at least out of character for him. That was true, but then the Fielder trade seemed to be awfully similar in terms of its intense focus on the immediate future. What's the public sentiment around Daniels right now?
AM: I think among the majority of fans, there is support for Jon Daniels...informed fans, at least, get that he's the guy who built a team that has won 90+ games in four straight seasons, something that's never happened in franchise history before. That said, there is a vocal segment of the fan base who thinks that Nolan Ryan was responsible for everything good about the Rangers, and JD is just a bean-counter who can't get his nose out of a computer long enough to watch the game. That segment is going to point to Nolan's departure as the turning point, if the Rangers struggle this year. That being said, ownership strongly supports JD, and his job is safe.
CO: Josh Wilson is tied for the fWAR lead for Rangers position players, with 0.4. What the hell?
AM: Yeah, I don't get it, either.