August Preliminary Report: Rangers

Texas Rangers
• The Rangers are the hottest team in the AL, having finished July with a 20-9 record for the month (and that after a 19-10 mark in June).  They’ll open August against the Yankees to wrap up a quick two-game series at Yankee Stadium. The game will feature a pitching match-up of Ron Guidry and Jon Matlack, both of whom have records of 16-3, and will be televised nationally on C-SPAN, with local coverage on KXAS in the Fort Worth-Dallas area and WPIX in New York.

• With Doyle Alexander getting roughed up as a starter (5-7 with a 7.03 ERA this season), the Rangers will switch to a 4-man rotation for August, with Alexander shifting to the bullpen. The starting four will consist of Matlack, Fergie Jenkins, Doc Medich, and Dock Ellis, with Jim Umbarger making spot starts throughout the month.

• Matlack, Jenkins, and Medich all went 4-1 in July, with a combined ERA of 2.81.

• Slugging outfielder Bobby Bonds, who hit just .215 last month, will return to his accustomed lead-off spot in hopes of sparking some offense from the 3-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner. Bump Wills will drop to the second spot in the order, with Al Oliver and his hit-and-run rating of 2 batting third behind the two A-rated baserunners.

• Texas currently has no players out with injuries, and with all their positions set (and a 39-19 record over the past two months), management chose to make no transactions with their AAA affiliate to begin the new month.

• While preparing the team’s lineup for August, I was puzzled as to why they had so many starting outfielders, each with close to 100 or more games played in 1978: Bonds, Oliver, Juan Beniquez, Richie Zisk, and Johnny Grubb. Well, once again I have Avalon Hill to thank for that enigma: instead of putting Grubb on the Indians, where he spent the first five months of the 1978 season, the fine folks at AH created a Rangers card for him instead…a team he spent less than one month with in ’78! And those ‘players to be named later’ he was traded for? Nope, they never made it to the Statis Pro Indians card set.

• And with Grubb tearing up the league (a .521 average, with 38 hits in just 18 games in July), I can’t very well bench him, or make him a reserve. In fact, the other four outfielders aren’t doing too shabby, either, so in the end, my decision was this: snap Bonds out of his doldrums by switching him to DH, keep Oliver in LF, have Zisk and Beniquez platoon, and have Grubb cover RF when Beniquez starts, and take over CF when Zisk starts. Hopefully, this strategy won’t disrupt the Rangers’ momentum going into the stretch run.

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2 responses to “August Preliminary Report: Rangers

  1. I think Alexander in the ‘pen is the right move, and I’d agree that Grubb has pretty much played his way into the lineup. I can’t really imagine the Rangers being 23 games above at any point in 1978 (they won 12 of their last 14 to finish 12 games above the mark), but I’m becoming a SP78 Rangers fan for the stretch run!

    • I’m really liking the Rangers, too, and they’re a fun team to pull for; lots of neat guys on the roster, plus for me the added bonus of meeting Jim Umbarger, which in turn makes me want he and the team to do well. I’d love more than anything to see the Rangers or Twins and Brewers or Tigers in the playoffs; right now, it looks like the Rangers might make their part of the scenario happen. And if I remember correctly, you already own a Rangers cap!

      And I talked to Doyle, and he’s cool with the move.

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