Fantasy Preview: Astros vs Rangers 25th Sep 2017

If the Texas Rangers want to make a move to clinch the second Wild Card spot in the 2017 American League playoffs, they’re running out of time to make their move. As of Saturday, September 23rd, they’re four games behind the Minnesota Twins for said Wild Card spot, while simultaneously trying to fight off the Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays, and division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Ok lets take a look at the stats below

That’s why the Rangers’ three game series against fellow division rival Houston, starting on Monday the 25th @ Rangers, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a chance to take a few games from a familiar foe, whose mindset is likely more focused on the playoffs right now. But on the other hand, trying to keep winning while playing against a team with the second best record in the American League isn’t an easy ask.

To make things worse for the Rangers, it looks like they’re going to have to face both of the Astros’ top pitchers: Dallas Kuechel in game two of the series (Tuesday the 26th), and Justin Verlander in game three (Wednesday the 27th). Kuechel has quality starts in three of his last four outings and his ERA still sits just under 3.00 (2.96) on the season.

However, he’s coming off a game where he allowed only two runs on five hits in six innings, but still took a loss against the Chicago White Sox. Meanwhile, Verlander has now won all four of his starts as a member of the Astros, while allowing just two runs through 28 innings. He pitched seven scoreless innings with just a hit and two walks allowed while striking out six batters to take the win against the Angels on Friday (9/22).

For the Rangers, it doesn’t help that rightfield Nomar Mazara has gone cold at the most inopportune time possible. While he still leads the team with 96 RBI, the outfielder is slashing an unremarkable .253/.326/.410 in the second half of the season, and is on pace to finish with the lowest RBI’s in any month since the All-Star break. The only consolation to fantasy baseball owners might be the fact that he’s driven in 40 runs in the last 58 games, thanks to his favorable spot in the batting order.

Third baseman Joey Gallo, the team leader in home runs (38), isn’t helping either. In the Rangers series against Seattle last week, Gallo went 1-for-12, striking out in seven of those 12 at-bats. Though Gallo’s home run production has certainly been useful for fantasy baseball owners, a .211 average and a somewhat underwhelming RBI total (75) have dinged his value relative to some of the game’s other top sluggers.

Texas will look to get out to a fast start in the series, when they put pitcher Andrew Cashner on the mound in game one of the series. (scheduled Monday the 25th) Cashner (10-10) gave up three runs on six hits and three walks over six innings Wednesday while striking out two to earn the win in Texas’ 8-6 victory over Seattle. It’s the righty’s fourth quality start in his last five outings, and his 3.45 ERA over that stretch has helped fuel Texas’ improbable climb back into the AL wild-card race.

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