The Texas Rangers continued their hot start last week and currently sit in third place in the AL West with a record of 12-8. The Rangers began the week by sweeping the Los Angeles Angels in three games and then winning the series against the hot Houston Astros. It was their second series win versus the Astros this season. Texas has only lost one series so far this year, and a lot of that success is due in part to Joey Gallo.
Gallo won the American League Player of the Week for the first time in his career as he hit .478 (11-for-23) with four home runs and a league-high 11 RBI. He also led the league with a 1.174 slugging percentage. In Sunday’s win over the Astros, Gallo had his first ever sacrifice fly. It took him 1,137 at-bats which is the third longest streak in MLB history for a player to start their career.
He is hitting .281 to start 2019. His slugging percentage of .734 ranks second in the league as does his OPS of 1.116. He has also walked 11 times but has 25 strikeouts. However, he does not rank in the top 10 in strikeouts which is surprising.
So what has changed? The credit belongs to the new hitting coach who has taught him to be more patient at the plate, and it has shown. Yes, it is only after 20 games and therefore a small sample size, but it is still the best start to a season he has had in his young career. For the record, ZiPS has him projected with a slash line of .220/.345/.564 for the season. So far it looks as though he may outperform that.
Joey Gallo was not the only reason for the Rangers good week. Part of the credit goes to Danny Santana who has filled in admirably at second base for the injured Rougned Odor who is at least a week away from returning. Santana is hitting .348/.348/.652/1.000 since taking over for Odor. Veteran Logan Forsythe has also done a good job at first while Ronald Guzman recovers from a strained hamstring.
The starting pitching also came into play in a big way. Mike Minor tossed his first career complete game shutout in a win over the Angels. Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly, Adrian Sampson, and Shelby Miller are starting to go deeper into games which is helping to save a shaky bullpen.
The bright spots in the bullpen have been Brett Martin, Shawn Kelley, and Jeffrey Springs. Jesse Chavez has had his ups-and-downs as the set-up man for closer Jose Leclerc whose command is off once again. He almost blew the game on Sunday when he was handed an 11-8 lead. He gave up a lead-off home run. Then a walk. That was followed by a fly out and a strikeout and everything looked good. He proceeded to walk the next three batters, including pinch-hitter Jose Altuve with the bases loaded. Kelley came in and struck out Robinson Chirinos to end the game and Rangers fans were able to breathe again.
Texas now begins a seven-game road trip in Oakland and hope that the early magic still continues and Joey Gallo’s bat remains hot.
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