The Texas Rangers have clinched the American League West title and are just looking to protect their 1st place spot in the American League. They are currently two games up on the Boston Red Sox, who have also clinched their division, too. It doesn’t look like they are playing for much, but for a couple teams who look like they are going to make it deep in the postseason. When the ALCS comes around, home field advantage may play a critical factor in who makes it to the World Series. Remember that the American League won the All-Star Game, so regardless of how everything shapes up in the National League, the American League will have home field advantage. And yes, if it weren’t for the All-Star rule, the Chicago Cubs would have had it if they make it to the World Series. I’m not a fan of the rule, and I am sure the Cubs aren’t going to be too thrilled with it come the World Series either.
The Rangers will trot out Yu Darvish against the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. Darvish has been able to stay healthy throughout the season, which has been a welcome sign for the Rangers in 2016. I don’t know if you want to call him an elite pitcher, but he’s been a good one, something the Rangers have desperately needed over the last couple of years. Darvish has had a hard time staying healthy in his career and is hoping that this spurt of clean health carries over into the postseason. While everyone was singing the praises of another team in Texas this season, the Houston Astros, the other team in Arlington, the Rangers, stole the spotlight from the ‘Stros. What a disappointing year it was for the Astros, who will not make the postseason, despite being a popular pick to win the World Series in 2016. The new breed Kansas City Royals they were not. Matt Andriese will counter Darvish tonight for the Rays.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers
Matt Andriese (8-7, 4.34 ERA) vs Yu Darvish (6-5, 3.53 ERA)
Like I said, Darvish hasn’t been pitching at an elite level. Certainly that is what is expected of him, but even without his 3.53 ERA, the Rangers would not be where they are at the moment. Also, his stats have been skewed due to a couple bad starts. Darvish started late this season, making his first appearance on the mound in late May. He has only had a couple of bad outings, which made a dent in his ERA. Two starts ago he allowed 7 runs, and early September he allowed 5 to the Astros. Those are the only two starts where Darvish has given up more than 3 runs in a start. In his last three starts, he allowed 1 run, 7 runs, and 0 runs in his last showing. His WHIP was also quite strong, posting a 0.96 in those three starts.
Matt Andriese has had a few more rough spots than Darvish has had in 2016. Amongst his last ten starts, Andriese has allowed 7 runs twice, as well as 6 and 5 runs. One of those games came against the Rangers, where he was dinged for 5 runs against their powerful bats. He has never looked sharp against them, with a combined 7.00 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in two starts. Texas is trying to catch the Red Sox for home field in the American League. There is some work to be done, and I think they improve their odds of doing it tonight with an easy win over the Rays in Arlington.
PICK: RANGERS -1.5 (-105)