It's a battle between the top two teams in the AL in terms of run differential, though #1 Texas dwarfs Toronto (and every else, obviously). Both teams are coming off 1-2 series, and will be looking for a little payback, deep in the heart of Texas. It's supposed to be 34 Celsius in Arlington on Saturday and Sunday, with the games kicking off at 2 pm local time. Should be fun, just like The Advance Scout.
Also, some Jays news: Ben Francisco is on the 15-day DL, with the club calling up David Cooper to replace him. Evan Crawford is being demoted back to AAA, with Ryota Igarashi coming up to take his spot in the pen. This means Dustin McGowan is being moved to the 60-day DL to open up a roster spot.The Jays never really needed five outfielders, and in fact Francisco almost exclusively DHed, so I imagine that this doesn't affect the outfield defense at all. I imagine there will be some sort of L/R platoon with Gomes and Cooper, with Edwin DHing/playing first base.
Sunday Update: Gomes down, Igarashi DFA'd, Jesse Chavez and Chad Beck coming up.
The Jays missed Derek Holland and Colby Lewis last time around, and get to double up on Yu Darvish. What joy.
Friday: Brandon Morrow v. Derek Holland
Derek "Dutch Oven" Holland (awesome nickname, btw) made his major league debut in 2009 at age 23, and spent the year as a starter getting knocked around. He split 2010 between the DL, AAA and the majors and showed marked improvement before putting things together last year, tossing 8.1 shutout innings in Game 4 of the World Series and throwing 200 innings of 3.95 ball during the regular season. Run scoring was/is down, but given his home ballpark, that'll play. The Rangers evidently thought so, signing him to a 5 year, $28.5 million deal with two club options. Holland, a lefty, is not physically imposing, standing 6'2 and weighing just under 200 pounds. He actually kind of looks like a weird version of Napoleon Dynamite. Appearances can deceive though, and Holland throws gas - working around 93-94 with his fastball. He throws a change up and a slider in the mid and low 80s, respectively, and has been relying more heavily on his curveball this year, throwing it once every six pitches. It's been his best pitch this year, though in the past he's lived on his fastball. Holland got knocked around a little bit in his last start against the Astros, giving up 3 home runs, and spent the week making mechanical adjustments in the bullpen. Lifetime both Jose Bautista and Rajai Davis are 3/11, Jeff Mathis is 3/13 and JPA and Yunel have two hits apiece in 6 and 8 at bats respectively; Adam Lind is the only Jay with a home run against Dutch.
Saturday: Henderson Alvarez v. Colby Lewis
Colby Lewis' story should be well known by now, as it took two stellar seasons with the Toyo Carp for him to get back to the majors after a fairly disastrous half-decade span prior to his time in the Japanese League. He signed a two year deal with the Rangers and threw back-to-back 200 inning seasons, the first very good, the second only average. He's in the club option year of his two-year deal, making $3.25 million, and I'm sure he's keen to cash in during the off-season. Lewis has never been a big power pitcher, even when he started posting bigger strikeout numbers the last couple of years. In his last start against the Astros he sat at 88, and didn't once break 90 with his fastball. Lewis instead relies on his slider as his (only) swing and miss pitch, throwing it more than a fifth of the time. He uses a curveball a bit too, but it's probably his worst pitch, and it often gets tagged. An okay change up augments his repertoire. Lifetime Rajai Davis is 6/16, while Omar Vizquel is 2/11. In 12 plate appearances Jose Bautista has 4 walks, a single and 2 home runs.
Sunday: Kyle Drabek v. Yu Darvish
Darvish completely shut down the non-EE Jays (Edwin homered) in his only appearance versus them, going 7 and allowing 1 run on 4 hits, with 2 walks and 9 strikeouts. Other than that he didn't give up a bunch of walks it was a pretty typical Darvish start on the year, as he has been very good, and is one of five pitchers to strike out double digits per nine innings. He is, however, also one of five pitchers walking 5/9, along with the pitcher he's facing, Kyle Drabek, and Ricky Romero, Ubaldo Jiminez and Daniel Bard. Still, he's been effective, as even with the walks he doesn't allow a ton of baserunners or home runs. He was also the AL Rookie of the Month in April. Yu throws five pitches (six if you count the two and four seam fastball seperately), although he relies most heavily on a 93 MPH four-seamer that he can dial up to 97. After that he throws a slider, cutter and curve in about equal measure, once every 7 or 8 pitches. The slider is probably the best of these offerings, as it sits between 80-84 MPH has late break away from righties. Darvish doesn't throw a change up, instead relying on a split fingered pitch in the high-80s that mimics his fastball arm action. His strikeout and walk numbers are both better against righties, but he's posted a better FIP against lefties so far.
Also, I mentioned this last time, but the Rangers bullpen is flipping insane. Their top 6 relievers all have ERAs below 2.45, with good peripherals: four of them strike out more than a batter an inning, and 5 of them walk fewer than 2/9 IP.
The Rangers have settled into a pretty comfortable lineup against right handed pitchers,
Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Josh Hamilton CF/LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Michael Young DH
David Murphy LF
Nelson Cruz RF
Mike Napoli/Yorvit Torrealba C
Mitch Moreland 1B
Craig Gentry comes in for David Murphy as a defensive replacement, pushing Josh Hamilton to LF. Yorvit Torrealba will probably start one game behind the dish, likely Saturday.
Josh Hamilton is basically leading everything in everything, with a .379/.429/.758 slash line, with 18 home runs and 49 runs driven in. People are talking about it being the greatest whatever whatever, though I will point out at this point last year Jose Bautista was hitting .343/.492/.804, with 19 home runs (only 32 RBI though). The kid's pretty good though, and he is going to get paid this offseason, though he's in a bit of a cool streak the last week... Neftali Feliz is out for 5-6 weeks, and right now Scott Feldman is filling in. Alexi Ogando has been relieving, so he is probably not a candidate... There's a chance the Rangers could be the destination for Roy Oswalt, but apparently he wants quite a bit of coin... Brad Ausmus is the manager for Team Israel at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and he is trying to recruit Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman, who are both Jewish (and thus eligible!) Kinsler's direct response was somewhat priceless: "This is the first I've heard about it. I don't know how I feel about it since I haven't been presented with anything."... Overall the Rangers are in a slump during the last 10 days or so.
Infirmary: Neftali Feliz (SP) is out for about a month with an elbow injury. That is all.
Song to Advance Scout by: Radiohead's OK Computer and Kid A, in 8-bit video game music. It is awesome.
Chart: All data from Fangraphs. Things were a bit screwy with Brandon Morrow for a while because an Adam Lind error got changed retroactively, but everything should be correct.