By Ronnie Garcia
With roughly 35+ games left in the season, things are starting to get very interesting. With the exception of the American League Central Division, things are very much, unsettled.
If you look at what the Kansas City Royals are doing, it’s basically a cakewalk for them with a 13 game lead at the current writing. In every other division, the races are good. Not tight, but good.
There are 5 teams in the hunt for two wildcard spots in the American League. Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Texas are all vying for those two spots. Over in the National League, there are essentially two teams in the race; San Francisco and Washington are in the drivers seats, with Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Chicago in the mix. This makes for a GREAT last full month of baseball.
Kansas City appears as the only team with a lock to make the playoff, barring a collapse of epic proportions. In the American league the lead for the Yankees is one game over Baltimore and for the Astros, they have a two and three game lead over the Angels and Rangers. The hottest team in baseball right now appears to be the Texas Rangers, who appeared to be dead in the water.
For the year, the Texas Rangers were as up and down as a rollercoaster. In May they were horrible, in June, fantastic, in July they were meh, and finally in August, they have cranked up the offense to the point of being the best offensive team in baseball since the ASB. These are the same Rangers who lost All-Star ace, Farid Yu Darvish before the season ever started. The same team who saw young star Derek Holland pitch ONE inning before being lost for nearly 5 months to a torn muscle in his shoulder.
Here are some of the names the Texas Rangers have trotted out to the mound this year. Veteran Wandy Rodriquez, who was on the proverbial trash heap? Ross Detwiler, who the Rangers got in a trade that amounted to nothing but a loss every time he went out. Stolmy Pimentel. Who?? Anthony Ranaudo, the home run king. This is hardly a list of pitchers who would create fear among professional hitters. Yet, they made due with these guys and with guys like Yovani Gallardo, recently, Martin Perez and Cole Hamels.
The only team that has been hotter than the Texas Rangers is the Toronto Blue Jays. They are in Arlington this week for a pivotal series. The fact that this team is in Wild Card contention blows my mind. To be brutally honest, the fact that they are 3 wins away from equaling last year’s win total is flabbergasting.Houston has to be looking at the scoreboard EVERY NIGHT because of how the Rangers have been playing.
Now, Derek Holland has returned from a torn muscle and is showing promise of being a pretty good pitcher. Holland is in a rotation that features Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, and the resurgent Colby Lewis, who is throwing like the 2011 Colby Lewis. Lewis has been a big surprise for the Rangers after undergoing a resurfacing procedure to remove bone spurs from his right hip, surgery that was just short of a full hip replacement. That happened while trying to come back from surgery in 2012 for a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. Wait. There is more.
Lewis also underwent Tommy John surgery 19 years ago while still in high school, and the torn rotator cuff that led to shoulder surgery in 2004 before his journey to Japan that eventually led back to the Rangers and becoming the best postseason pitcher in their history. Lewis is the kind of guy who shows what a warrior looks like.
Tough. Gritty. Intense. War Horse. These are all words that you could use to describe, arguably, the Rangers best pitcher this season. If I asked you who the top winning pitchers in the American League were, you could probably guess the names of Dallas Keuchel and Felix Hernandez. You would NEVER guess who the third, 14 game winner might be.
You got it. Colby Lewis. If not for 4 blown saves by the bullpen, Lewis could be an 18 game winner. Let that sink in. The best pitcher the Rangers have right now is the 30 something bionic man, Colbra Lewis.
For most people, short of making the playoffs, anything less would be viewed as a failure. I am here to tell you that the Rangers are a winner in my book because of what they have done and accomplished. This team has used resources to get a very good pitcher in Cole Hamels, and they will be getting Yu Darvish back, next year. The future looks very bright for the Texas Rangers. Add to that, the play of some of our younger players, DeLino DeShields, Keo