How Texas Rangers Match Up Against Every Potential AL/NL Playoff Opponent

Jeffrey Kahn@jkahn24Correspondent IISeptember 10, 2013

How Texas Rangers Match Up Against Every Potential AL/NL Playoff Opponent

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    The Texas Rangers are on the cusp of the playoffs as the MLB season is reaching its end. Their potential road to the 2013 World Series would include possible series against several different AL and NL teams.

    One team the Rangers could face is the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are currently in first place of the AL Central and might match up against the Rangers if they were to win the AL West. The Rangers played the Tigers seven times this season and won four of those games.

    If the Rangers were to reach their ultimate goal of a World Series, one potential matchup would be against the Pittsburgh Pirates who are a wild-card team if the playoffs were to start today. The Rangers are currently in a three-game series against the Pirates in Arlington. Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates offense, while the pitching ERA is ranked third in the MLB.

    As the Rangers continue to battle for the AL West and try to secure a playoff spot, check out some of their potential matchups on the road to the World Series.

Atlanta Braves

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    2013 Rangers record vs. Braves: (0-0)

    Three-man rotation

    Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor

    Three key contributors

    Justin Upton, Chris Johnson, Craig Kimbrel

    In the beginning of the season, it was thought that B.J. Upton and Justin Upton were going to be a dynamic pair of brothers. However, the oldest brother B.J. has only hit for a .192 batting average.

    Chris Johnson leads the team in batting with a .329 average, while Freddie Freeman leads the team with 96 RBI. Highly regarded Jason Heyward has just been having an average season with a .253 average and 13 RBI.

    Pitching has been great for the Braves as Mike Minor is 13-6, and Kris Medlen has amassed 13 wins. Close games late mean game over in favor of the Braves. Closer Craig Kimbrel has been lights-out, picking up 45 saves on the season, which ranks first in the NL. The rest of the bullpen has been solid as well.

Baltimore Orioles

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Baltimore Orioles: (2-5)

    Three-man rotation

    Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez

    Three key contributors

    Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Jim Johnson

    The Rangers and Orioles played seven games in July, and in the last series at Arlington, the O's swept. When talking about these two teams in the playoffs, the Rangers lost the 2012 AL Wild Card Game with ace Yu Darvish on the mound. Horrible, horrible memories.

    In 2013, not much has changed. Luckily on offense, Chris Davis reverts back to his time with the Rangers as he has been awful against his former team. In just 26 at bats, Davis has struck out 13 times. He's also had only four hits. Also notable for the Orioles is that starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez has two wins and a 1.35 ERA against the Rangers.

Boston Red Sox

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Boston Red Sox (4-2)

    Three-man rotation

    Clay Bucholtz, Jon Lackey, Jake Peavy

    Three key contributors

    David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli

    The Rangers got a small sample against the Red Sox this season. In the first series, the Rangers swept the Red Sox at home. However, the trip to Boston was forgettable as the Rangers lost two of three games by a combined score of 25-11. Notably, the Red Sox currently have the best record in the MLB.

    Adrian Beltre owns the Red Sox this season. In six games he was 11-21 with two home runs and six RBI. Yu Darvish and Derek Holland both have a win over the Red Sox, striking out nine and 14, respectively.

Cincinnati Reds

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Cincinnati Reds: (2-1)

    Three-man rotation

    Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey

    Three key contributors

    Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce

    The Reds are a team that depends on their pitching as much as their hitting. They have the lowest batting average against, with .236, and the lowest WHIP, with 1.16.

    Closer Aroldis Chapman has 35 saves and a ridiculous 101 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. Joey Votto is the team's most valuable player and is hitting for a .304 batting average. Jay Bruce leads the team with 29 home runs and Brandon Phillips leads with 101 RBI.

    The Reds lost two games to the Rangers in late June. The two losses came against Martin Perez and Yu Darvish, while the win was in extra innings. The sample was small, but pitching was important in the series. Joey Votto got a hit in each game and ended up 5-12 in the series.

Cleveland Indians

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Cleveland Indians: (1-5)

    Three-man rotation

    Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister

    Three key contributors

    Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher

    The Indians create matchup problems for the Rangers. In the six games played between the clubs this year, the Rangers have lost five games by a combined score of 31-18. Ubaldo Jimenez has two wins against the Rangers, posting a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings. He's also struck out 10 batters.

    Jason Kipnis has been strong for the Indians all season and against the Rangers. He's 10-26 against the club with two doubles and a home run. Michael Brantley has also had success. He's 9-22 with two stolen bases and has drawn three walks versus the Rangers.

Detroit Tigers

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Detroit Tigers: (4-3)

    Three-man rotation

    Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez

    Three key contributors

    Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez

    Until September, the Rangers were the only team to beat Max Scherzer. Derek Holland was the winning pitcher in the 7-1 victory, going seven innings and striking out seven. In that game, Nelson Cruz was 4-5.

    Cruz owns the Tigers and hit the famous game-winning grand slam in the 2011 American League Championship Series. One of the greatest memories in Rangers history.

    This season, Mitch Moreland has been the Tigers killer. He has eight hits against the AL Central opponents, with two home runs and eight RBI. He had three of those RBI with a double off Justin Verlander in a 10-4 victory.

    The Rangers are a solid matchup for the Tigers because they always seem to pound the baseball against the challenging pitching.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: (0-0)

    Three-man rotation

    Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu

    Three key contributors

    Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez.

    Despite an early September hiccup, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball. This is due largely in part to Yasiel Puig. The rookie is hitting for a .343 batting average with 15 home runs and 34 RBI.

    He's been extremely clutch this year with timely hitting and a walk-off home run against the Reds to win 1-0. See here.

    Oh, and don't forget about Hanley Ramirez. He's hitting for a .343 batting average with 18 home runs and 53 RBI. Michael Young was recently picked up by the Dodgers via waivers and is looking for his first World Series ring.

    The Dodgers also have one of the best pitchers in the MLB. Clayton Kershaw is 14-8 with a 1.92 ERA. He has also struck out 208 batters in 216 innings. Zack Greinke has also been dominate as he is 14-3 with a 2.79 ERA. Add that to South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is 13-5 with a 3.02 ERA, and the Dodgers have the best three-man rotation in baseball.

New York Yankees

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. New York Yankees: (4-3)

    Three-man rotation

    CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte

    Three key contributors

    Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera

    The Yankees could potentially be a very scary team if they make it into the playoffs. Playing as a veteran club with historic players, the Yankees could make a run fueled by a last-ditch effort. There isn't any certainty, but Alex Rodriguez could explode come playoffs.

    You can't even forget about Alfonso Soriano. The Yankees are just a bunch of former superstars who could revert back to their old forms at any moment. Yes, that is scary.

    Matt Garza was great in his first start for the Rangers while facing the Yankees. He gave up no runs and struck out five batters. Yu Darvish had one of his worst starts in New York giving up three home runs to the Bronx Bombers. However, he bounced back nicely in his next start against the team, only allowing two hits while picking up the win.

Oakland Athletics

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Oakland Athletics: (9-7)

    Three-man rotation

    Bartolo Colon, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin

    Three key contributors

    Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss

    The Rangers and A's would be an interesting playoff matchup not only because they are divisional rivals, but also because it would be for a chance to go to the World Series. The Rangers have a winning record against the A's, but the most recent series in early September is cause for concern.

    Jarrod Parker is a key player in this matchup. He's 3-1 against the Rangers with a 3.12 ERA. In his 26 innings against the Rangers, he's struck out 19 batters. Matt Garza is also a key player because the A's tormented him with the bunt in his last start against them. Pitching will be the biggest factor in this matchup. The Rangers have three more games with the Athletics left this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (0-1)

    Three-man rotation

    Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett

    Three key contributors

    Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte

    The Pirates might be the team to watch come October. They have a solid three-man rotation and enough power in the lineup to carry them through low-scoring games. The Rangers are currently in a three-game series with the Pirates that began Sept. 9. The Pirates won Game 1 by a score of 1-0.

    The series will be a good test for the Rangers and they seem to match up well. Gerrit Cole is a young and upcoming star like Martin Perez for the Rangers. Both teams have strong aces in Francisco Liriano and Yu Darvish. And, each team has a superstar, with Andrew McCutchen and Adrian Beltre. This is a must-see series in Arlington.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. St. Louis Cardinals: (3-0)

    Three-man rotation

    Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn

    Three key contributors

    Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday

    The Rangers faced the Cardinals this season for the first time since the 2011 World Series. It was a very successful trip back to St. Louis, as the Rangers swept the Cardinals and got small revenge for the 2011 seven-game series.

    In Game 1 in 2013, Derek Holland allowed four quick runs, but settled down to pitch seven innings and get the no-decision. Ian Kinsler was 5-13 in the series, and Nelson Cruz was also 5-13, while adding five RBIs. It would be a nice matchup for the Rangers to make it to the World Series and face the Cardinals, a team against which the Rangers have had recent success.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    2013 Rangers Record vs. Tampa Bay Rays: (2-1)

    Three-man rotation

    David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson

    Three key contributors

    Evan Longoria, James Loney, Matt Joyce

    The Rangers met up with the Rays in just the third series of the year and took two from them in Arlington. Alexi Ogando won the first game and Nick Tepesch won the second. In the third game, Derek Holland lost to Matt Moore and the Rangers were held scoreless.

    The Rangers need to watch out for superstar Evan Longoria. He had three hits in the series, but in 2012 he had 12 hits against the Rangers and five of them were home runs. Longoria is the heart and soul of the Rays and the Rangers staff must be careful. The Rangers face the Rays next on Sept. 16-19.