Rangers suddenly falling apart

By Matt Verderame

The Texas Rangers have been at the top of the American League West standings for almost the entire 2016 Major League Baseball season. That is now in serious question.

Texas, which appeared to be a lock for the American League postseason, suddenly is fighting for its life. The Rangers have lost four of their last 10 games and are only 2.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros, who after a miserable start are rolling behind their young talent.

The Rangers, 58-44, are struggling to find any quality pitching. Martin Perez has an ERA of 7.53 in the month of July, while Cole Hamels is sporting a mediocre 4.15 ERA. Worse than that are the numbers of A.J. Griffin, Nick Martinexz and Kyle Lohse, who each have respective ERAs of 6.63, 11.88 and 12.54. After so many hot starts on the mound, Texas is in dire need of somebody stepping up and getting the job done.

All of the struggling in recent weeks puts general manager Jon Daniels in a tough spot. Texas has one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball, and could put together a package for either Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, Chris Sale, Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi or Julio Teheran if the need is deemed great enough.

Offensively, the Rangers are going through some major injury woes. Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder are both on the disabled list, with Fielder out for the season with a neck injury. While neither was playing great baseball to begin with, the depth chart is considerably weakened as the team hurdles down the stretch.

Daniels only has a few days left to make a choice. Texas can either stand firm and simply hope it has enough to hold out Houston, or make some waves on the trade market and hope to outgun the competition.

Since the All-Star break, Texas is 4-8 including a series loss to the Oakland Athletics to start this week. If it wasn’t for an Adrian Beltre walk-off home run on Monday, the Rangers would have been swept and Houston would be a game closer. The Kansas City Royals are coming into town for four games next, followed by a nine-game road trip that includes the Baltimore Orioles, Houston and the Colorado Rockies.

With so many veterans and high-priced ones at that, the Rangers’ time is now. Texas has to find its way into the playoffs for the second straight year and go the distance for the first time in postseason history. It would be a fitting way to say goodbye to third baseman Adrian Beltre, should he finally choose to hang up the spikes.

The MLB trade deadline is Aug. 1. The time is now, one way or the other, for the Rangers.