It was a near perfect 82-degree day in Surprise, AZ as division rivals Texas and the Angels from Anaheim went head to head. Opinions of MLB baseball handicappers are changing about the Rangers for this upcoming season.
Or I should rephrase that, Los Angeles is holding steady while Texas’ MLB odds are becoming larger.
Here are thoughts on this team as Opening Day draws closer, exciting those who are ready to make MLB picks.
Texas – Projected Win Total 78 wins – 4th in the AL West
The Rangers cannot overcome the loss of Yu Darvish, they just have to move on and hope for the best with the likes of Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler, Derek Holland and presumably Nick Martinez as the starting staff.
The Texas infield is set and this could be one of the best in the American League with Prince Fielder, Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus. There is defense and power on the left side and if Fielder and Odor play more relaxed and there is every reason to believe they will, new manager Jeff Banister would just have to worry about who to rest during the season.
Leonys Martin and Shin-Soo Choo are set in center and right, with left field probably to be a platoon position to start the season. Jake Smolinski and Carlos Peguero have both had good springs and to say one is more deserving than the other at this point would be inaccurate.
Closer Neftali Feliz and Tanner Scheppers are slated to work late in games, but that is not a given and the rest of the bullpen is a very fluid situation.
Expect Texas to return to normal numbers offensively but it will end up being the pitching which will determine if the Rangers slide into third place in the AL West division race and climb over the sportsbooks win total. I’m thinking they will.
Game Notes: Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers
Texas pounded out 18 hits and Odor and Adam Rosales were the hitting stars, combining for five hits, five runs scored and three driven in.
Nick Tepesch was the Rangers starter and did not show much (5 innings, 4 hits and 3 runs allowed) and saw his ERA balloon to 8.56. Roman Mendez caught my eye with a lively 95 MPH fastball.
On the humorous side, Fielder led off the second, with a bunt toward third base going against the Angels shift and “legged it out” for a single.