Oakland Athletics’ Division Race: Checking In On the Competition

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Jun 17, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Texas Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder (84) doubles in the second inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers

Rank: Third – 6.5 Games Back
Record: 41-42
First-Half MVP: All-Star Price Fielder
Most Exciting Debut: Joey Gallo, who’s batting .218/.306/.448, but has five home runs in just 25 games.

The Rangers acquired Fielder in the hopes of competing last season, but a season-ended neck injury dashed those hopes. This season, however, Fielder is back with a vengeance. He’s batting .347/.413/.530, with 50 RBIs on the year. While players like Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus have struggled, Fielder has punished the ball on a regular basis.

In April, the Rangers acquired Josh Hamilton from the Angels in an unusual trade. Hamilton, who had an off-field issue that created serious friction with the Halos’ leadership, was all but given back to Texas for nothing. Since his return, he’s been plagued by muscle strains – likely a result of his lack of Spring Training. When he has played, he’s 10-for-33 with a pair of home runs, so he’ll certainly help out Fielder in the lineup if he can stay healthy.

If the Mariners are pitcher-heavy, the Rangers are the exact opposite. Texas’s pitching staff was depleted with the loss of Yu Darvish, leaving the rest of the rotation to pick up the pieces. Yovani Gallardo has been great, going 7-6 with a 2.56 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 102 innings.

Right-hander Nick Martinez has filled in better than anyone could have expected – he’s 5-5 with a 3.43 ERA, despite not having the stuff one would expect a successful pitcher to have. He does seem to be tiring though, as his ERA has steadily climbed throughout June. Disappointments include Wandy Rodriguez, Colby Lewis, and especially Ross Detwiler.

Unlike the Mariners, the Rangers are not about to get a pitcher like Iwakuma back. Lefty Matt Harrison is set to return on Wednesday, but it’s unknown how he will fare. This puts them in the position of needing to buy a starter if they hope to compete, which is a pretty unfortunate position to be in, given the competitiveness of the market.

Next: Division Competition: Los Angeles Angels