With the playoffs approaching, every club heading for October baseball is neck deep in scouting reports on potential opponents. Here are Scout.com, we want you to be just as prepared for postseason baseball. We’ll be breaking down each playoff bound team as part of our postseason preview, as well as well as scouting reports on key players. Here’s a look at the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers enter the playoffs in a different manner than they entered them in 2010. They are without Cliff Lee and without an out of this world season from Josh Hamilton. But, what they are now is a more balanced and experienced baseball team. The offense is potent one through nine and despite not having Cliff Lee, they have a pitching staff that is legitimately five deep.
If you’re looking for a weakness, you do have to look at the Rangers’ right-handed pitching. They are heavily reliant on C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland but may have some issues against some more right-handed heavy lineups in October. They will also have to hope for the best when it comes to the performance of the talented but inexperienced Alexi Ogando. This is not a team with glaring weaknesses, but expect to see their opposition try to stack the righties in the lineups whenever possible.
Matchup To Watch
There’s not many lineups in baseball that are as downright entertaining as the Rangers. With that said, this is going to be a postseason loaded with phenomenal starting pitching. Whether they face the deep, young and talented Tampa Bay Rays' staff or shoe-in Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander it will be a true test of offense versus the league’s best pitching.
More specifically, the man to watch is always Josh Hamilton. He’s turned it on down the stretch despite not repeating his 2010 performance, but Hamilton is always a player capable of simply taking over a series with his bat. And, he’s also the type of bat that can handle any of the league’s elite stuff. Facing the type of pitching Texas figures to face, they may need a superstar performance out of Hamilton.
There’s a couple ways Texas can choose to go with their rotation. And, it remains to be seen whether their plan will include Ogando. Their opponent’s lineup will likely dictate whether they want another right-hander to throw out there. If he is in the rotation he gives Texas a very different look. His fastball, which averages over 95 mph, could pose problems for any lineup in the game. On the other hand, he’ll need to establish his secondary pitches in a hurry. If there’s anything we’ve learned about pitching in the postseason it’s that good lineups will punish a fastball if a secondary pitch can’t be established in the early innings. He’s also likely to run into some powerful left-handed bats, and it will be intriguing to see if he can make any use of his sparsely used changeup to combat them.
Players put themselves on the map every postseason, and Holland has a chance to be one of those guys this year. Texas fans know how good he is and what he can be, but his stuff could make him a star this October. There are a few things that tend to allow a pitcher to succeed in the playoffs, and a deep arsenal and swing and miss stuff top that list. Holland has those things in abundance. He has a legitimate four pitch arsenal and a 93-96 mph fastball that allows him to consistently miss bats. There’s no replacing Cliff Lee, but Holland has the type of ability to perform on that type of level if he has it all going.
We’ve learned, especially in recent years, that the playoffs are very much about who is hot entering the month of October. Few players will enter the postseason hotter than Adrian Beltre and he’s in a lineup that makes it nearly impossible to pitch around him. Beltre also has a lot of recent experience giving the New York Yankees fits in a Boston uniform. He’s a hitter with very few holes right now, but pitchers will be doing their best to keep the ball out of the upper quadrants of the zone.
Check out all the latest postseason analysis and prospect scouting reports on ScoutingBaseball.com and for more on the Texas Rangers check out LoneStarDugout.com