Extra Bases: Rangers' depth on display
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's the Oakland A's turn to take their best shot at the Rangers.
Ask the Detroit Tigers how difficult that is.
|ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss whether the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and whether he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
The Rangers cruised past the quarter pole of the season with the best record in baseball and upped that mark to 29-15 with Sunday's 11-8 victory. They start Monday with a 6 1/2 game lead -- every other division lead is 2 1/2 games or less.
And so much for the Rangers building the franchise's best record through 44 games against Houston and other losing teams. They swept Boston, who came to Arlington with baseball's best record at the time, and they just took three out of four against Detroit, the defending American League champs.
Depth has been the answer. The Rangers have proved again they are the deepest organization in baseball. They'll start Monday with three pitchers in the rotation who haven't made double-digit starts in the big leagues yet -- Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Josh Lindblom.
A.J. Pierzynski goes down and Geovany Soto starts hitting. Ian Kinsler hits the 15-day disabled list and the top prosect in baseball, Jurickson Profar, is waiting in the wings.
The buzz in the ballpark should be high Monday when Profar starts at second base. Manager Ron Washington, reluctant to play Profar in key games last season with the division title on the line, said Sunday that Profar will play.
The deepest team in baseball gets to show off again Monday night.
Beltre belting: Don't look now but Adrian Beltre's batting average is up to .291. He had four more hits Sunday for his third straight multi-hit game. He's batting .447 in his last eight games. He has eight extra base hits (five doubles, three home runs) in the last nine games.
Bullpen matters: The Rangers have an interesting decision to make Monday when Lindblom is activated to start against Oakland. A roster move will have to be made. Right-hander reliever Cory Burns has impressed in two outings and the Rangers could use a another righty in the bullpen. Look for Burns to stay. That could mean left-hander Joseph Ortiz, who has options, could get more work at Triple-A Round Rock.
Rotation matters: The Rangers still haven't decided what they'll do as far as adjusting the starting rotation with Thursday's off day. They have three off days coming up in the next two weeks, so they'll be able to adjust and push back or skip starts by Grimm and Lindblom.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.