The team with the best record in the American League, the Texas Rangers, will invade Fenway Park for a brief, two game stint against the Red Sox. And they’re throwing their best two pitchers against the Sox best two pitchers. With the Sox offense seeming to have found it’s groove and a Rangers offense that is also smoking right along, this two game mini-set could be as entertaining as watching Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo replay the pizza thrower incident. I wonder how he made out in the marathon on Monday?
Jared from the Fansided site, Nolan Writin’ was gracious enough to take us inside the Rangers club from a writer’s perspective. He discusses the hype surrounding Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton‘s contract situation, Joe Nathan and the comparable situation to the Sox bullpen and his predictions on how the series will shake out, along with a few more tidbits. Enjoy and go Sox!
1. The Rangers, as expected are off to a nice start at 8-2 and leading the division. What’s been the biggest reason the Rangers are rolling during the early going of the young season?
The main things have been starting pitching and timely hitting. The big bats of Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz (and to a lesser extent even Adrian Beltre) have been quiet so far but Josh Hamilton had a couple of big homeruns in the Minnesota series and Michael Young and Ian Kinsler were great against Seattle. In three of the games against Seattle, Texas had a 1-0 lead past the fifth inning which is a testament to the starters. The early success is good news because while I expect the starting pitching to come back to earth, I also expect the offense to wake up.
2. Yu Darvish has been good in his two starts for the Rangers, but not great. What’s been the reaction to the start of his major league career and are fans at all concerned that he may not live up to the hype?
I think the reaction was positive. Obviously it was a little bit scary for fans in the first inning against Seattle, but he didn’t allow another run in that game and against Minnesota he battled hard and only allowed a run. The most concerning thing is the walks. It was like that in Spring Training and it’s continued so far. I’m not too concerned personally, and I don’t think fans are either at this point. The way the team is, he can struggle in the early going because the rest of the rotation is so strong. It’s way too early to judge anything at this point, but if he can get his control down, he’ll be fine. I’m thinking the walks may be him nibbling the plate too much and with time, he’ll learn his stuff is good enough to throw for strikes.
3. C.J Wilson recently criticized the Rangers stating they wasted his time when negotiating a contract this past winter. Is that a fair statement by Wilson considering the organization did a lot for him during his time in Texas?
It’s impossible to say. We don’t know what was promised and what direction the Rangers were going in. I’m sure that the Rangers were discussing Wilson or Darvish and that maybe they were taking too long but a waste of time? I’m not sure about that and I don’t think anyone can say beyond Wilson and the Rangers. I know Rangers fans can’t wait to beat him though. Between the statement and his “prank” on Mike Napoli, he’s not very missed.
4. Do you expect Josh Hamilton to be back in a Rangers uniform next season?
Yes. The Rangers might not want to give him a long-term deal given his injury history but one winter after the Angels added Albert Pujols, I don’t see the Rangers and Hamilton not coming to an agreement if both sides want a deal. And both sides should. The Rangers have two centerfield prospects in Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin but they also have room for improvement in left field. Hamilton’s health and the play of the two youngsters will dictate whether he signs as the season goes on, but my instinct says Hamilton will stay a Ranger.
5. Joe Nathan struggled out of the gate from the bullpen, which Red Sox fans can relate to all too well. In your opinion, is he the answer as the team’s closer or is Neftali Feliz better off to go back and become the closer?
I’ll answer your question in two parts. He looks to be struggling but his peripherals are all very good so far and, although it’s early has the best swinging strike rate of his career. I don’t necessarily think he is the best closer in the organization though. I am a huge Mike Adams fan and he has been a closer in waiting for San Diego as well behind Heath Bell. Neftali Feliz won’t return to the bullpen with how he has performed as a starter but I can see Adams or Alexi Ogando as the team’s closer should Nathan cost the team wins.
6. Finally, the pitching matchups:
Lewis vs. Lester
Holland vs. Beckett
Break down each matchup and who wins this brief two game stint at Fenway Park?
This is going to be great and it should make for some good baseball with both teams sending their top pitchers. Lewis and Holland don’t look like top of the rotation starters but they are. Lewis has carried his momentum from the playoffs and Holland has more wins than everyone but Justin Verlander since the middle of last year. They are under the radar but quickly getting their due respect.
That being said, Lester and Beckett are obviously very good too. I see a split coming but I don’t know which pitcher wins. If a sweep happens, that would be bitter for either team given the pitching matchups.