You Can’t Win a Title In April, but You Can Lose One

by Charles Parker on April 12, 2017

The first week of this season has been a complete disaster for the Rangers. It is easy to lay blame at the feet of Sam Dyson the closer of record. After all he has clearly blown two saves in spectacular fashion, and lost another game all by himself. Allowing 11 runs in just four innings of work is completely shocking.

However, that is not the whole story. Errors by almost every player on the team have contributed to this atrocious start. Every single one of those missed plays reduces the effectiveness of the pitcher. This is especially true of the starters as this has forced them to get extra outs in almost every game. It is not just the errors that show up in the stat sheet, as there are misplayed balls, dropped balls, out of position players, and missed cutoff men contributing to the complete breakdown of fundamentals.

The hitting has been far too reliant on hitting home runs as it seems this team has lost the ability to manufacture runs and to get base hits in key situations. That is supposed to be the hallmark of Rangers hitting coach Anthony Iapoce. Still the team has been almost every game, and again at least three of those should have been won by the Rangers. This is just not the same team without Adrian Beltre leading it. The team discovered today that his return will be delayed until at least May.

That brings us to the bullpen. The pen is an overall disaster, there is just no kind way to put the mess that most everyone, including me, thought would be the strength of the team. Take a look at these numbers:
Sam Dyson 3 innings pitched and an ERA of 36.00
Dario Alvarez 1 inning pitched, ERA 18.00
AJ Griffin 3.1 innings, ERA 10.80
J. Jeffrees 2.2 innings, ERA 10.13
Mike Hauschild 1 inning, ERA 9.00
Matt Bush 3.2 innings, ERA 4.91
In fact out of the bullpen only Alex Claudio and the rookie Jose LeClerc stand out because they have yet to yield a single run.

The team has some options but those are unproven and in the minors. The upsetting part about only have two wins in seven attempts is that all of what is being seen on the field are not the problems anyone expected. Everyone was concerned with Gallo starting at 3rd, he has been fine and showing signs with every at bat at getting better. Left field has not performed well at the plate in that platoon situation, but again expected because it is early and nobody has gained their timing. Finally, everyone was concerned over the 4th and 5th rotation spots. That is still a concern too.

The problems that were expected will work themselves out over time, and can be managed. What cannot be managed is miscommunication in the outfield between Mazara and Gomez while allowing balls to drop like a bunch of little leaguer’s. Elvis whiffing on a line drive. Misplayed balls at first base or in the outfield.

The biggest issue is that bullpen. When players suddenly lose it and can no longer pitch that is unmanageable. It means that players have lost their confidence, doubt and thinking enter their minds. Sam Dyson may be damaged goods going forward after the beating he has taken. Yet keep in mind that had those misplays earlier in the game not occurred, then he is not facing the best player in baseball Mike Trout and the ever pesky Albert Puhols in the 9th.

Ben Dieter lamented last season of the loss of Mike Maddox the pitching coach.  Since, Mike left the philosophy of the entire pitching staff has changed.  Starters are not pushed to go further into games, and there is a complete lack of consistency in the entire staffs approach to each outing.  To blame it all on coaching is usually wrong, but the reality is that if the coaches are reaching the players, that means the talent stinks.  If they are not, then coaching stinks.  My take is that Doug Brocail is no Mike Maddox.

The tragedy from tonight is that Cole Hamels, while struggling at times, allowed a single run before handing off to the bullpen.  Wasting quality starts is horrific for the entire team. Tony Barnett allowed 1 more run, but going into the bottom of the 9th with a 3 run lead and blowing it is crazy.

Where do the Rangers go from here? This team needs a good kick in the pants, and my guess is that Dyson will go on rehab for a bit until he figures out what is wrong. You do not win a division in April, but you can sure lose one. Game one of a nine game road trip ended horribly, they have eight more. Yes it is early in the season, they have not played 10 games yet. However, if they don’t win 4 of the next 8, this team is in big trouble.

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