The Oakland Athletics took two out of three from the Texas Rangers in a three-game series that ended on Sunday. Here are three takeaways from the series.
How Thin is the Ice Under Chris Woodward?
I woke up on Sunday morning, got on Twitter and saw that Chris Woodward was trending. Rangers fans were venting about Saturday’s 3-1 loss , and let’s just say the majority of them have had enough.
Sunday’s 11-8 win over Oakland improved Woodward’s record with the Rangers to 203-275.
Rangers fans are frustrated after that wonderful May — the Rangers had a winning month for the first time in nearly three years — there’s been a huge fall. May teased them, frankly. The plan for last offseason was to work on the batting lineup. The Rangers did that with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien . The plan this offseason is to work on the pitching, in terms of free agency. Hey, Clayton Kershaw, wanna come home?
Watch this team every day and you see a lot of hope, and not just with the Major League club. If you look at the farm system, there’s a bushel of talent that could be ready in the next two to three seasons to augment Seager, Semien and the rest.
The question the Rangers have to ask themselves the rest of this season is whether Woodward is the RIGHT manager to get the most out of that talent. I think it’s fair to say it’s audition time with regard to Woodward, who signed an extension in 2021 that committed the Rangers to him through the 2023 season, with a club option within 2024.
But we all know how much managerial contracts are really worth. This is a franchise that will once had four managers in 10 days. If the Rangers want to make a move, they’ll make it. And it will be because they believe Woodward is no longer the particular manager that can get the most out of this team. And it will be a crucial decision, given the upward trajectory this franchise hopes to take in 2023 and beyond.
Is this Matt Bush-Taylor Hearn Thing Really Going to Work?
The old-school baseball fan in me doesn’t particularly care for the “opener” concept. But if you’re trying to get the most out of your skill, you’re trying to do whatever possible to do that, right?
Enter Matt Bush and Taylor Hearn.
The Rangers love Hearn’s stuff. But they hate his inconsistency. He throws too many pitches and doesn’t locate consistently enough yet. He has long-term starter potential, but he can’t get into binds where he throws too many pitches and can not get out of the fifth inning (which is what sent him to the minors).
On Saturday, for the second straight time, the particular Rangers used Bush in the first inning and then brought in Hearn to basically get as far as he could get.
Honestly? Hearn looked solid. He threw 3 1/3 innings. This individual threw 60 pitches, gave up three hits and a walk and struck out three. Most importantly, he didn’t give up a run.
Juxtapose that along with July 15 — in four innings he threw in the towel four runs (two earned), five hits and two walks, but he struck out seven.
So , within two games in this arrangement with Bush, Hearn has allowed eight hits, four runs, three walks and has the 2 . 45 ERA with 10 strikeouts. Throw in his last game before the demotion, on June 25 against Washington, and Hearn has a 1 . 59 ERA. Oh, by the way, THAT was an opener situation, too. Brett Martin started the game.
So … is this actually working? For Hearn, I think so. For the rest of the bullpen, I’m not so sure. Hearn exited earlier than I think the Rangers were hoping, and that put the bullpen in a bind. If Hearn can get deeper into the game, like a starter, then this arrangement has some real utility for both their future and the Rangers rotation.
The particular Bullpen is in Trouble
Here’s the bullpen’s numbers in the three games in Oakland:
Friday : 3 1/3 innings, three hits, one run (earned), 2 walks, three strikeouts.
Saturday : 3 2/3 innings, three hits, three operates (one earned), three walks, two strikeouts (doesn’t include Bush and Hearn opening the game).
Sunday : Two innings, eight hits, seven runs (all earned), one walk, one strikeout.
The result on Sunday skews this, obviously. But the bullpen, which looked exhausted at the end of the first half, hasn’t bounced back. The thing that’s worrisome is that the bullpen’s most reliable relievers — Matt Moore, Dennis Santana and Martin — had been involved in Saturday’s and Sunday’s results.
And with young starters set for Monday’s and Tuesday’s game, the bullpen needs some help.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard