The Texas bullpen came up big on Friday, logging 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rangers’ 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins in Arlington, Texas.
On Saturday, the Rangers have a chance to win the three-game series with their ace, Martin Perez, on the mound.
Perez (7-2, 2.34 ERA) will go against Minnesota’s Devin Smeltzer (4-2, 3.04) in a matchup of southpaws.
Perez has been one of the biggest surprises in the big leagues this year. A year ago with the Boston Red Sox, the veteran went 7-8 with a 4.74 ERA.
Already this season, Perez has matched his win total from a year ago, and he threw his first complete game and shutout since 2014.
“I don’t even want to think about where we’d be without him, honestly,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said, according to MLB.com. “Honestly, he’s such a stabilizer for us any time we need him.”
Perez is 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA in eight career games (five starts) against the Twins.
The 31-year-old is making a strong case to be a first-time All-Star.
“He comes out and gives us a quality start every time,” Woodward said. “It’s something he’s been doing all year. I think it’s just the consistency and he dependability that we have every time he goes out. I can’t even begin to think about not having him right now.”
Woodward thought about matchups heading into the ninth inning on Friday with the Rangers carrying four left-handed relievers. Lefty Brett Martin retired the side in order to pick up his first major league save in his 163rd appearance.
“That was awesome,” Martin said postgame on Rangers’ radio. “To get that first one out of the way, that was fun.”
Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli acknowledged that Texas’ bullpen makeup presents challenges for his clubs.
“They’re going to be able to come at us with different options as the games go on,” Baldelli said. “So we’re not going to be able to just prepare for these games lineups-wise and making moves during the game like we normally would. Most of the time, you run out of lefties after they bring in one. But we’re not going to be able to think about it like that. So that presents a little bit of a situation.”
Smeltzer has no decisions and a 4.32 ERA in two career outings vs. the Twins, both in relief in 2019. In his latest start, he lost to the Baltimore Orioles, giving up three runs in six innings on Sunday.
Smeltzer has been more effective at home (2-1, 2.10 ERA in five starts) than away (2-1, 4.10 ERA in five starts). He has yielded more than three runs just one time in his 10 outings.
Rangers designated hitter Mitch Garver is playing in the weekend series, but it will be his last action of the season. The 31-year-old veteran will undergo season-ending surgery on Monday to repair a tendon in his right forearm.
Garver wanted to put off the surgery until next week because he wished to face his former team. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI on Friday, leaving him with a .210 average, a .710 OPS, 10 homers and 23 RBIs in 52 games.
“The only way that I’m gonna be the player that I want to be is with the surgery,” he said, according to MLB.com.
–Field Level Media