The Rangers haven’t spent all this time operating like tomorrow is coming, so there’s no reason to stop now. Two winters ago it was Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, which went well. Last winter it was Jacob deGrom, which…well, not so much. You keep letting it ride, sometimes you lose. But that doesn’t mean you should stop, at least that’s what I think Kipling said.
The Rangers are in first place, one game above Houston, a place they haven’t found themselves in a while. Whatever one thinks of having a bye in the first round of the playoffs or not, it’s probably better to have it than not, even if it’s a guarantee of a whole lot of not much. The only opportunity you’re guaranteed is the one right in front of you.
With that in mind, the Rangers traded for Max Scherzer on Saturday, and then Jordan Montgomery on Sunday. Scherzer obviously stole all the headlines, mostly due to reputation over current performance. Scherzer isn’t the fabulous weapon he was, and only slots in for the Rangers as a third or fourth starter.
Mad Max has lost some spice to his fastball, now not averaging 94 MPH for the first time in 12 years. It’s also getting crushed, with a slugging percentage 100 points higher than it was last year. His slider has seen even a bigger dropoff (two MPH), is staying higher in the zone, and has basically been ice cream for anyone who’s come across it (.595 slugging against). Scherzer has tried to up the variety to make up what he’s lost, throwing his curve, cutter, and change more often than he has before (at least the curve and cutter) with varying success.
There’s a question of how many innings Scherzer can even provide going the rest of the way. He only threw 147 last season, plus his 4.2 innings against the Padres in the wildcard round. He’s thrown only 108 this year, and might only have nine or 10 starts left. Luckily for the Rangers, the Mets are kicking in enough cash that will only leave Texas needing to fork over $16 million next season, which is about the going rate for a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Which is probably all Scherzer is now.
Jordan Montgomery, at least for this year, is the better pickup. While Montgomery only strikes out around the league-average number of hitters, he gets a ton of grounders that should be sucked up by the plus defense the Rangers have on the infield (16 outs above average, fourth in the league). Still, with Nathan Eovaldi on the IL with a strained forearm, which never, ever leads to Tommy John surgery, the Rangers were getting pretty desperate.
The Rangers have also made a second addition to their pen, by packing Chris Stratton into Montgomery’s carry-on from St. Louis. He joins Aroldis Chapman’s acquisition from earlier in the season, all to support Will Smith, alongside Jose LeClerc, John Sborz, and Brock Burke. That should be enough arms to bridge in October, even if Montgomery and Scherzer don’t provide the kind of October starts they write poems about. If Eovaldi makes it back from the bad place for pitchers, whichever starters are moved to the pen should also boost that.
Whatever prospects the Rangers give up, none of them would be as promising what lies in front of the Rangers. The Orioles currently lead the AL East, and they have maybe a starter and a half. The Rays have forgotten how to hit and still have to patch together the pitching staff. Find two or three starters in October, and only ask them to win two series instead of three, and the Rangers have as good of a chance to get to their third World Series as anyone in the AL.
Make up tomorrow tomorrow. Today’s here now for Texas.
For the 3,000th time, no one has confused ESPN with journalistic integrity in decades, and Pat McAfee’s defection to the WWL only makes the case even further. He’s just a walking ID, who makes guys around the nation feel like it’s OK to live like someone who regularly passes out in the bathroom stall of a Jimmy Buffet concert. He’s yet another who simply just speaks loudly whom the masses have mistaken for being honest. He’s what Rob Gronkowski hopes he ages into, and Gronk is a Grade-A dolt. This is what ESPN values, and hopes will bring back their radio dominance. Should keep McAfee in a collection of sleeveless shirts for a while though.
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