The Red Sox and the Rangers face off in the third game of a three game set on Sunday afternoon. Boston has taken the first two games of the series in dominating fashion, blowing out the Rangers in each game. This is only their second series win of the season, and they are still in last place in the AL East with a lackluster 13-20 record. Texas isn’t doing much better as the loss dropped them to 13-19, and they will look to avoid being swept for the first time this season on Sunday. First pitch for the series finale is at 2:35pm ET.
Can The Red Sox Get Back On Track?Boston has been one of the worst teams in baseball in the early going, but they managed to split a two-game road series with the defending champion Braves and have taken the first two games of their series against the Rangers. They have been clicking both offensively and from a pitching perspective in the series, with Nick Pivetta and Rich Hill both tossing great games while the bats have feasted on the Rangers’ pitching, hanging up 18 runs in the two games. If they can pull off the victory on Sunday it will be their first sweep of the season and it would be their first three-game winning streak of 2022 as well.
His name is Rafael Devers. pic.twitter.com/ZrcAreZDHH— Red Sox (@RedSox) May 14, 2022
The Sox have yet to announce a starter for Sunday’s game, and will likely go with an opener on Sunday afternoon. It won’t be a full-on bullpen game, as Tanner Houck will almost certainly serve as the “bulk guy” and take down a significant chunk of the game. Houck hasn’t pitched since May 8th so he is very well rested and should be able to handle a decent workload, probably as many as five innings provided he is throwing the ball well. Houck began the season in the starting rotation, throwing as many as 89 pitches in a start, but his last four appearances have come out of the bullpen. Houck has an unsightly 5.80 ERA so far this season, but his 3.51 FIP shows he’s been the victim of some hard luck. His 22.8% strikeout rate is pretty far below his career mark of 29.2%, and he needs to keep more batters from making contact to offset his 10.9% BB rate.
The Red Sox offense has been miserable to begin the year, ranking 26th in runs scored. They are also 26th in OPS as well as ISO, and they sit 27th in wRC+. Their biggest free agent acquisition Trevor Story has disappointed in his first six weeks in a Boston uniform, with just one home run and an anemic .210/.280/.305 slash line. The trio of Rafael Devers, JD Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts have carried them thus far. Devers bashed his sixth home run of the season on Saturday against Texas and is slashing .308/.338/.496 to begin 2022. The Sox have scored seven or more runs in three of their last four games, and they hope their offensive breakout, especially from the bottom of the order, is a sign that they are going to turn things around.
Rangers Big Free Agents Not Getting The Job DoneThe Rangers dropped some serious money signing up Corey Seager and Marcus Semien during the offseason, but they haven’t performed up to expectations in the early going. Semien especially hasn’t gotten it going, as yet to put a ball in the seats and is slashing just .160/.221/.210. They have not been able to solve the Red Sox pitching in this series, as they have mustered just four runs in the first two games. Both Dane Dunning and Glenn Otto got lit up, and pretty much nothing has gone right for them since the Red Sox came to town. The Rangers had won seven of their last ten games coming into the series against Boston, and they still hope they can turn their season around as their marquee additions play up to the backs of their baseball cards.
A lower-profile offseason free agent signing, Martin Perez, takes the mound on Sunday afternoon. Perez spent the last two seasons pitching for Boston, but he spent the first seven years of his career with these Rangers and has returned after a three-season run with the Twins and Red Sox. He has been mostly a back-of-the rotation innings eater throughout his career, but he has pitched like an ace to begin 2022. He boasts a stingy 2.10 ERA backed up by a 2.58 FIP, and while his strikeout rate is low at just 19.4%, he has shown solid control with a 6.7% BB rate. He sits in the 96th percentile in barrel rate for the year, proving that he can induce the type of poor contact that results in outs even if he isn’t striking batters out at will.
The Rangers’ offense was expected to be significantly improved from the team that was last in the American League in runs scored in 2021, but they haven’t gotten much better as they are 22nd in runs scored so far in 2022 as well as 27th in OPS and 24th in wRC+. Jonah Heim has come out of nowhere to be the most dangerous bat on the team, with three homers to go with a .302/.403./528 slash line. Corey Seager hasn’t been a total bust and does have seven home runs, but his .231/.300/.419 slash line isn’t exactly what they were hoping for when they inked him to a contract worth more than $300 million.