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Series preview: Cleveland Indians prepare for three-game set against injury-ravaged Rangers

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You could almost make another team out of the players on the Rangers' disabled list.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Much like the Cleveland Indians, the Texas Rangers are in a very close fight to take the lead in their respective division. In the Rangers' case, it is the Seattle Mariners they are contending with, while the Indians are fighting off the Kansas City Royals and freefalling Chicago White Sox. Both the Rangers and the Indians have a lot to play for in this series (about as much as you can in early June), so look for a fun one.

And, of course, it'll only be a "fun one" if the Indians win.

Pitching matchups

  • Monday, 6:10 p.m. ET: Josh Tomlin (RHP) vs. Derek Holland (LHP)
  • Tuesday, 6:10 p.m. ET: Corey Kluber (RHP) vs. Colby Lewis (RHP)
  • Wednesday, 6:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. Cole Hamels (LHP)

Right off the bat, the Indians are going to win Game 1, guaranteed. The Indians lost yesterday and Josh Tomlin is infused with cannot-lose-after-a-loss magic. Sorry, Ranger fans, I don't makes the rules.

The other two matchups look tough for the Indians. Colby Lewis carries a 3.38 ERA and 4.39 FIP on the season, but he rarely walks a batter -- 5.1 percent of them to be exact.

Although he is not exactly having the greatest year of his career (and the Indians really do not have an issue hitting against LHP this season), Cole Hamels is historically a very tough lefty to face. His biggest issue this season has been giving up home runs, but he is striking out 25 percent of the batters he faces this season, which would be the second-best mark of his career behind the 26 percent strikeout rate he put up in his rookie season with the Philadelphia Phillies a decade ago.

Upcoming schedule

After this series, the real work begins for the Tribe. They will host the Kansas City Royals who, depending on how the next three days ago, could be just about dead even with the Indians in the standings. Over the four games the two division rivals play, the Indians will have a shot at creating a huge lead in the American League Central... or they will create a huge deficit.

Team in a box

Texas Rangers

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

Record

29-21

R/G

4.60

4th

ERA

4.07

8th

AL West

1st

OBP

.317

8th

HR/9

1.30

13th

Last 10

7-3

SLG

.412

6th

BB/9

3.19

10th

Streak

W2

Steals

33

5th

SO/9

7.06

15th

The most glaring weakness on this Rangers team is the pitching staff. Despite being middle-of-the-pack in earned run average, they give up a lot of home runs and strike out very few batters. Both of these weaknesses could play into the Indians' favor, especially for someone like ex-Ranger Mike Napoli, who has struggled with striking out but can send a ball into orbit when he feels like it.

Recent headlines

  • Yu Darvish's return: 5 IP, one run | Lone Star Ball
    It will not factor into this series against the Indians, but the exciting news for the Rangers is that Yu Darvish has made his return from Tommy John surgery. In his first start since the procedure, he struck out seven and allowed five hits over five innings (81 pitches). Glad the Indians are not facing him, but it is always nice to see a star player successfully come back from an injury.

  • It's time for the Rangers to swallow their pride and dump Prince Fielder for Joey Gallo | Dallas News
    After a great 2015 campaign in which he was named Comeback Player of the Year, Price Fielder looks awful this season. He is by far the worst hitter on the Rangers and one of (if not THE) worst position player in the league getting every day playing time right now. Jonah Keri proposes that the Rangers bite the bullet, dump Fielder and the $18 million he is owed every year for the next five seasons, and let Joey Gallow play every day at designated hitter.

Texas Rangers roster

Position players

  • C: Bobby Wison
  • 1B: Mitch Moreland
  • 2B: Jurickson Profar
  • SS: Elvis Andrus
  • 3B: Adrian Beltre
  • LF: Ryan Rua
  • CF: Ian Desmond
  • RF: Nomar Mazara
  • DH: Prince Fielder

Bench

  • C: Bryan Holaday
  • SS: Hanser Alberto
  • CF: Jared Hoying

As previously mentioned, Prince Fielder has been absolutely atrocious this season. He is slashing just .197/.268/.306 for a team-low 49 wRC+ and a team-low -1.2 fWAR.

The Rangers took a flier on Ian Desmond, who turned down a huge contract extension from the Washington Nationals just a few years ago, and so far it has paid off. Desmond has not been good enough to make the Nationals regret the fact that he did not accept the money, but his .295/.344/.461 slash while playing solid defense in center field has to make the Rangers thrilled they signed him to a one-year, $8 million deal this offseason.

Starting pitchers

  • LHP: Cole Hamels
  • LHP: Martin Perez
  • RHP: Colby Lewis
  • LHP: Derek Holland
  • RHP: Yu Darvish

Bullpen

  • RHP: Sam Dyson
  • LHP: Jake Diekman
  • RHP: Tony Barnette
  • LHP: Cesar Ramos
  • LHP: Alex Claudio
  • RHP: Matt Bush
  • RHP: Luke Jackson

AJ Griffin was off to a great start before hitting the disabled list with a shoulder injury. His 0.8 fWAR still leads the entire Rangers pitching staff, and his 2.94 ERA and 3.47 FIP are not too far behind, either.

The Rangers have three lefties coming out of their bullpen, which the Indians will likely see a lot of with their lefty-heavy lineup. Most dangerous of all will be Jake Diekman who has allowed just four earned runs off 11 hits in his 23 appearances this season.

Unavailable
  • Shin-Soo Choo: 15-day DL
  • AJ Griffin: 15-day DL
  • Drew Stubbs: 15-day DL
  • Robinson Chirinos: 15-day DL
  • Josh Hamilton: 15-day DL
  • Keone Kela: 15-day DL
  • Tanner Scheppers: 15-day DL
  • Rougned Odor: Suspended
  • Shawn Tolleson: Family Medical Emergency List

The Rangers are a team that has been ravaged by injuries, and it is amazing that they are even still in contention at this point.