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Texas Rangers MLB News - Rangers Baseball Blog » Texas Rangers (96-66) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (91-71)

Texas Rangers (96-66) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (91-71)

Blogged under Bloglockers, Front Page, General, The Playoffs by chinmusic on Thursday 29 September 2011 at 7:36 pm

These two teams matched up for a classic first round playoff series last year, which was won by the Rangers in 5 games. I look for another outstanding series as these teams match up really well. Here is a look at the matchups in this series:

CATCHERS: Joe Maddon loves to platoon behind the plate with 31-year old righty swinging Kelly Shoppach and 28-year old lefty swinging John Jaso and l look for that to continue in this series. That means that Shoppach is going to get the bulk of the P.T. as the Rangers are going to start 3 lefties in this series. Shoppach played in 87 games for the Rays this year and he was 39 for 221 (.176 avg, .607 OPS) with 23 runs scored, 11 homers and 22 RBIs. He has played in 5 post-season games so far in his career and he is 3 for 15 (.200 avg, .667 OPS) with 1 run scored. John Jaso played in 89 games for the Rays this year and he was 55 for 246 (.224 avg, .651 OPS) with 26 runs scored, 5 homers, 27 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Jaso has played in 3 post-season games in his career so far and he is 3 for 10 (.300 avg, .664 OPS) with 1 RBI.

33-year old righty swinging Yorvit Torrealba will likely get most of the P.T. behind the plate because of his defense, as the Rays are a running team. Torrealba played in 113 games for the Rangers this year and he is 108 for 396 (.273 avg, .705 OPS) with 40 runs scored, 7 homers and 47 RBIs. He has played in 17 post-season games so far in his career and he is 15 for 56 (.268 avg, .758 OPS) with 6 runs scored, 2 homers and 13 RBIs. 29-year old Mike Napoli could also get some time behind the plate in this series, but the Rays would likely run all over him.

EDGE: RANGERS

FIRST BASE: 28-year old lefty swinging Casey Kotchman came out of nowhere to win the starting job at 1B for the Rays this year. He gave them clutch hitting and outstanding defense at 1B. Kotchman played in 146 games for the Rays this year and he was 153 for 500 (.306 avg, .800 OPS) with 44 runs scored, 10 homers, 48 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He has played in 11 games in the post-season in his career so far and he is 2 for 16 (.125 avg, .451 OPS) with 1 run scored and 1 RBI.

26-year old lefty swinging Mitch Moreland and 29-year old righty swinging Mike Napoli are going to share 1B in this series. Moreland played in 134 games for the Rangers this year and he was 120 for 464 (.259 avg, .733 OPS) with 60 runs scored, 16 homers, 51 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He has played in 15 games in the post-season already in his career and he is 16 for 46 (.348 avg, .900 OPS) with 5 runs scored, 1 homer and 7 RBIs. Mike Napoli played in 113 games for the Rangers this year and he was 118 for 369 (.320 avg, 1.046 OPS) with 72 runs scored, 30 homers, 75 RBIs and 4 stolen bases.

EDGE: RANGERS

SECOND BASE: 30-year old switch-hitting Ben Zobrist splits his time at 2B and RF. The Rays are probably going to use him as the regular 2B in this series. Zobrist played in 156 games for the Rays this year and he was 158 for 588 (.269 avg, .822 OPS) with 99 runs scored, 20 homers, 91 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. He has played in 12 post-season games so far in his career and he is 7 for 31 (.226 avg, .701 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 1 homer and 2 RBIs. If Maddon keeps up his platooning, then Sean Rodriguez will start at 2B against lefty starting pitchers with Ben Zobrist in RF.

29-year old righty swinging Ian Kinsler is one of the best 2B in all of baseball as he was a 30/30 man this season for the second time in his major league career. Kinsler played in 155 games for the Rangers this year and he was 158 for 620 (.255 avg, .832 OPS) with 121 runs scored, 32 homers, 77 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. He has played in 16 games in the post-season in his career so far and he is 16 for 54 (.296 avg, .918 OPS) with 7 runs scored, 3 homers, 9 RBIs and 3 stolen bases.

EDGE: RANGERS

SHORTSTOP: Joe Maddon has to go with his best lineup in this series and that would include 26-year old righty swinging Sean Rodriguez at SS. Rodriguez played in 131 games for the Rays this year and he was 83 for 373 (.223 avg, .679 OPS) with 45 runs scored, 8 homers, 36 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He has played in 4 post-season games so far in his career and he is 2 for 10 (.200 avg, .600 OPS) with 2 runs scored. Lefty swinging Reid Brignac might sneak in a start against righty Colby Lewis at SS in this series.

23-year old righty swinging Elvis Andrus played in 150 games for the Rangers this year and he was 164 for 587 (.279 avg, .708 OPS) with 96 runs scored, 5 homers, 60 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. Andrus has played in 16 games so far in the post-season and he is 20 for 68 (.294 avg, .676 OPS) with 8 runs scored, 0 homers, 4 RBIs and 8 stolen bases. He is by far the fastest runner the Rangers have to offer on the basepaths.

EDGE: RANGERS

THIRD BASE: 25-year old righty swinging Evan Longoria is the heart and soul of the Tampa Bay Rays. He has an awesome glove at 3B and he is the best clutch and power hitter on the team. Longoria played in 133 games for the Rays this year and he was 118 for 483 (.244 avg, .850 OPS) with 78 runs scored, 31 homers, 99 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. He has played in 21 games in his career in the post-season and he is 16 for 82 (.195 avg, .762 OPS) with 12 runs scored, 7 homers, 15 RBIs and 1 stolen base.

32-year old righty swinging Adrian Beltre had a really solid first season with the Rangers. He played in 124 games for the Rangers last year and he was 144 for 487 (.296 avg, .892 OPS) with 82 runs scored, 32 homers, 105 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Beltre has played in 4 games in his post-season career and he is 4 for 15 (.267 avg, .517 OPS) with 1 run scored and 1 RBI.

EDGE: SLIGHT FOR RAYS

LEFT FIELD: 24-year old righty swinging Desmond Jennings has stumbled into a deep slump lately. He played in 63 games for the Rays this year and he was 64 for 247 (.259 avg, .805 OPS) with 44 runs scored, 10 homers, 25 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. Jennings really needs to get on base at the top of the lineup to help alter this series with his speed on the basepaths. Jennings has played in 2 games in the post-season in his career and he is 0 for 2 (.000 avg) with 1 run scored.

30-year old lefty swinging Josh Hamilton might also get some time in CF in this series, but look for him to play LF most of the time. Hamilton played in 121 games for the Rangers this year and he was 145 for 487 (.298 avg, .882 OPS) with 80 runs scored, 25 homers, 94 RBIs and 8 stolen bases. Hamilton has played in 16 games in his career in the post-season and he is 11 for 58 (.190 avg, .784 OPS) with 9 runs scored, 5 homers, 9 RBIs and 4 stolen bases.

EDGE: RANGERS

CENTER FIELD: 27-year old righty swinging B.J. Upton surged late in the season with the bat. He played in 153 games during the regular season and he was 136 for 560 (.243 avg, .759 OPS) with 82 runs scored, 23 homers, 81 RBIs and 36 stolen bases. Look him to wreak havoc on the bases against the Rangers if he hits well in this series. Upton has played in 21 games in the post-season in his career so far and he is 23 for 87 (.264 avg, .864 OPS) with 16 runs scored, 7 homers, 18 RBIs and 8 stolen bases.

33-year old lefty swinging Endy Chavez will likely get most of the time in CF, unless the Rangers decide to use Josh Hamilton there. Chavez played in 83 games for the Rangers this year and he was 77 for 256 (.301 avg, .749 OPS) with 37 runs scored, 5 homers, 27 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Chavez has played in 10 games in the post-season so far in his career and he is 8 for 35 (.229 avg, .514 OPS) with 2 runs scored.

EDGE: RAYS

RIGHT FIELD: 27-year old lefty swinging Matt Joyce should get most of the P.T. in RF, despite the Rangers likely starting 4 lefties. Joyce played in 141 games for the Rays this year and he was 128 for 462 (.277 avg, .825 OPS) with 69 runs scored, 19 homers, 75 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. He has played in 4 games in the post-season in his career and he is 2 for 9 (.222 avg, .444 OPS) with 1 stolen base.

31-year old righty swinging Nelson Cruz played in 124 games for the Rangers this year and he was 125 for 475 (.263 avg, .821 OPS) with 64 runs scored, 29 homers, 87 RBIs and 9 stolen bases. He has played in 16 games in his post-season career so far and he is 19 for 60 (.317 avg, 1.083 OPS) with 13 runs scored, 6 homers, 11 RBIs and 1 stolen base.

EDGE: RANGERS

DH: 37-year old lefty swinging Johnny Damon is a clutch hitter. He played in 150 games for the Rays this year and he was 152 for 582 (.261 avg, .743 OPS) with 79 runs scored, 16 homers, 73 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. Damon has already played in 55 games in his post-season career and he is 68 for 244 (.279 avg, .783 OPS) with 36 runs scored, 9 homers, 30 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

34-year old righty swinging Michael Young turned in one of his best seasons ever for the Rangers. He played in 159 games for the Rangers this year and he was 213 for 631 (.338 avg, .854 OPS) with 88 runs scored, 11 homers, 106 RBIs and 6 stolen bases. Young has played in 16 games in his post-season career and he is 17 for 67 (.254 avg, .619 OPS) with 4 runs scored, 1 homer and 7 RBIs.

EDGE: RANGERS

BENCH: The Rays aren’t likely going to use the bench much in this series outside of giving John Jaso a start against Colby Lewis. 25-year old lefty swinging SS Reid Brignac will also likely get a start against Lewis. He played in 92 games for the Rays this year and he was 48 for 249 (.193 avg, .448 OPS) with 18 runs scored, 1 homer, 15 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Brignac has played in 3 games in his post-season career and he is 0 for 3 with 3 whiffs. 29-year old lefty swinging Sam Fuld might get some action as a pinch runner or a defensive replacement in this series. Fuld played in 105 games for the Rays this year and he was 74 for 308 (.240 avg, .673 OPS) with 41 runs scored, 3 homers, 27 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. 27-year old switch-hitting infielder Elliot Johnson could also get into some games as a pinch runner. He played in 70 games for the Rays this year and he was 31 for 160 (.194 avg, .595 OPS) with 20 runs scored, 4 homers, 17 RBIs and 6 stolen bases. 32-year old lefty swinging 1B/DH Dan Johnson is likely to make the roster too. He played in 31 games for the Rays this year and he was 10 for 84 (.119 avg, .389 OPS) with 7 runs scored, 2 homers and 4 RBIs. He has played in 5 games in his post-season career and he is 2 for 9 (.222 avg, .750 OPS) with 1 run scored.

29-year old lefty swinging outfielder David Murphy is one of the best #4 outfielders in all of baseball. He could actually get a few starts in this series if the Rangers use Josh Hamilton in CF. Murphy played in 120 games for the Rangers this year and he was 111 for 404 (.275 avg, .729 OPS) with 46 runs scored, 11 homers, 46 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. 29-year old righty swinging Mike Napoli is going to get a lot of P.T. at 1B and C in this series for the Rangers. 27-year old righty swinging outfielder Craig Gentry gives the bench some speed. He played in 64 games for the Rangers this year and he was 36 for 133 (.271 avg, .693 OPS) with 26 runs scored, 1 homer, 13 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. 35-year old righty swinging catcher Matt Treanor also made this roster. He played in 7 games for the Rangers this year and he was 0 for 10 (.000 avg, .083 OPS) with 1 RBI. Treanor has played in 4 games in the post-season in his career so far and he is 2 for 10 (.200 avg, .929 OPS) with 3 runs scored, 1 homer and 2 RBIs.

EDGE: RANGERS

STARTING PITCHING:

Because of the fact that the Rays had to use their top three starters to finish off the Yankees, they are likely going to use 28-year old righty starting pitcher Jeff Niemann at the top of the rotation. Niemann pitched in 23 games (all starts) for the Rays this year and he was 11-7 with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. He has pitched in 1 game (0 starts) in his post-season career and he is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. 29-year old righty James Shields will go in Game #2 for the Rays in this series. Shields pitched in 33 games (all starts) for the Rays this year and he was 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He has pitched in 5 games (all starts) so far in the post-season in his career and he is 2-3 with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. 24-year old righty rookie Jeremy Hellickson will likely be #3 in line against the Rangers. He pitched in 29 games (all starts) for the Rays this year and he was 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. This will be his first experience in the post-season. 26-year old lefty David Price will likely round out the starting rotation. He pitched in 34 games (all starts) for the Rays this year and he was 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He has pitched in 7 games (2 starts) in the post-season in his career and he is 1-2 with 1 save, a 3.93 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.

30-year old lefty C.J. Wilson is going to be the #1 starter for the Rangers in this series. Wilson pitched in 34 games (all starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He has pitched in 4 games (all starts) in his post-season career so far and he is 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. 24-year old lefty Derek Holland is #2 in line for the Rangers. Holland pitched in 32 games (all starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. He has pitched in 6 games (0 starts) so far in the post-season and he is 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. 32-year old righty Colby Lewis will be #3 in line. Lewis pitched in 32 games (all starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 14-10 with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He has pitched in 4 games (all starts) in the post-season for the Rangers and he is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. 26-year old lefty Matt Harrison will be the #4 starter for the Rangers in this series. He pitched in 31 games (30 starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.

EDGE: EVEN

BULLPEN: 35-year old righty Kyle Farnsworth has been a solid closer for the Rays this year. He pitched in 63 games (0 starts) for the Rays this year and he was 5-1 with 25 saves, a 2.18 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. Farnsworth has pitched in 15 games (0 starts) in the post-season so far in his career and he is 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. 35-year old righty reliever Joel Peralta has also been quite a find for the Rays as a set-up man. Peralta pitched in 71 games (0 starts) for the Rays this year and he was 3-4 with 6 saves, a 2.93 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. This will be his first taste of the playoffs. 32-year old righty Juan Cruz might need to eat more as he is rail thin, but he get bring the heat. He pitched in 56 games (0 starts) for the Rays this year and he was 5-0 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. He has pitched in 8 games (0 starts) in the post-season in his career so far and he is 0-0 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. 26-year old righty Wade Davis might not get a start in this series, so look for the Rays to use him out of the pen. Davis pitched in 29 games (all starts) for the Rays this year and he was 11-10 with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. He has pitched in 1 game (1 start) so far in his post-season career and he is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP. 25-year old lefty Jake McGee should be the top lefty reliever for the Rays in this series. He pitched in 37 games (0 starts) for the Rays this year and he was 5-2 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. Rookie 22-year old lefty Matt Moore is also likely going to be working out of the pen in this series. He pitched in 3 games (1 start) for the Rays this year and he was 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. 27-year old lefty Cesar Ramos will likely be used only against lefty batters in this series. Ramos pitched in 59 games (0 starts) for the Rays this year and he was 0-1 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. 27-year old Brandon Gomes pitched in 40 games (0 starts) as a rookie this year for the Rays and he was 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.

23-year old righty closer Neftali Feliz wasn’t as good as he was in 2010, but that’s nitpicking. Feliz pitched in 64 games (0 starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 2-3 with 32 saves, a 2.74 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Feliz has pitched in 7 games (0 starts) in the post-season in his major league career and he is 0-0 with 1 save, a 1.23 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. 40-year old lefty Darren Oliver will have a key role in this series for the Rangers. He pitched in 61 games (0 starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 5-5 with 2 saves, a 2.29 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Oliver has pitched in 22 games (1 start) in his post-season career and he is 1-2 with 1 save, a 4.08 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. 33-year old righty Mike Adams was really good for the Rangers after coming over in a deal with the Padres. Adams pitched in 27 games (0 starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 2-3 with 1 save, a 2.10 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. 36-year old righty Koji Uehara came over from the Orioles in a deal. He pitched in 22 games (0 starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. 27-year old righty Alexi Ogando is going to be working out of the bullpen in the playoffs. He pitched in 31 games (29 starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He also has pitched in 5 games (0 starts) in the post-season and he is 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. 33-year old lefty Mike Gonzalez will be the situational lefty for the Rangers in the playoffs. He pitched in 7 games (0 starts) for the Rangers this year after coming over in a deal with the Orioles and he was 0-0 with a 5.14 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. 28-year old righty Scott Feldman will likely be the long man for the Rangers. He pitched in 11 games (2 starts) for the Rangers this year and he was 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.

EDGE: RANGERS

MANAGER: 57-year old Joe Maddon coaxed his Tampa Bay Rays to a 91-71 (56.2%) record this year to win the A.L. Wild Card. The Rays are now 495-477 (50.9%) during the regular season in Maddon’s first six years on the job. The Rays are also 10-11 (47.6%) during the post-season under Maddon. He always seems to get the most of the players regardless of the small payroll he’s dealing with.

59-year old Ron Washington led the Rangers to a 96-66 (59.3%) record during the regular season which was good enough to win the A.L. West. He is now 427-383 (52.7%) during the regular season as the manager of the Rangers. Washington is also 8-8 (50%) in the post-season.

EDGE: EVEN

PREDICTION: RANGERS IN FIVE GAMES

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