The Rangers and Angels Play for Divisional Supremacy
On May 4, 2015, the Texas Rangers had a 6 percent chance to make the playoffs. On June 18, they went to 33 percent with Houston at 67 percent. On August 1, the Rangers had an 8 percent chance, the Astros had a 94 percent chance and the Angels were sitting at 69 percent.
As of today, October 1, the Rangers are at 95 percent, the Angels are at 53 percent and the Astros are at 44 percent.
The Rangers need to win to clinch the West. If they do, the Angels and Astros can still both make the wild card. I could go through all of the scenarios but I don't have the room in this format. The bottom line is that October baseball is exciting.
The Astros' dream scenario is to sweep the Diamondbacks and for the Angels to do the same to the Rangers. That would end in a tie and a playoff for the Astros and Angels. But I feel like I'm getting ahead of where we are. If the Rangers win tonight, all of that goes out the window. Everyone but Rangers fans are rooting for the Angels tonight.
Derek Holland (3-3, 4.99 ERA) has that chance tonight. He will face off against the outstanding rookie and one of the lone bright spots on a dismal fantasy baseball team Andrew Heaney, (6-3, 3.29 ERA).
Beyond clinching the division, the most important thing tonight for the Rangers is for Holland to get back on track. He shaved his "Wild Thing" haircut because the backlash got to him. Derek Holland is a great pitcher. At times, he has been the best Rangers pitcher. But he is obviously distracted.
I don't think he's immature. Maybe that's because he and I have similar personalities and I don't find myself to be immature. Take from that what you will. I do think he is distracted by an overwhelming majority of people who think he is pitching poorly because of his haircut.
I couldn't imagine having thousands of Twitter notifications when I got home from a bad day at work telling me everything I did wrong because I looked like an idiot.
I believe in Derek Holland and I think he would be a lot better off if he could just focus and be comfortable. Easier said than done, but I think he can do it. Baseball is a whole lot better when you're having a good time.
Starting pitching moving on from tonight probably depends on if the Rangers win tonight. As it stands, the Rangers will follow Holland with Martin Perez (3-6, 4.77 ERA), Colby Lewis (17-9, 4.53 ERA) and Cole Hamels (12-8, 3.72 ERA), who might get the day off so he can start game one against the Royals/Blue Jays in the ALDS.
The Angels will counter with: Jerod Weaver (7-12, 4.76 ERA), who would be great to clinch against; Hector Santiago (9-9, 3.52 ERA) has five games pitched and five wins against the Rangers this year and it would be vindicating to clinch against; and Nick Tropeano (3-2, 3.82 ERA), who hopefully the Rangers don't have to clinch against because they have already clinched. (This is the only situation where the word 'clinch' isn't uncomfortable.)
The most valuable player in this series will be Mike Napoli, a catcher that the Angels traded to Toronto for a day for Vernon Wells (who isn't in baseball anymore) before the Rangers swooped in and got him for a relief pitcher named Frankie Francisco (who also isn't in baseball anymore).
Prediction: the Rangers will win three out of four games after coming out sluggish to one game with a bit of a champagne hangover.