Monday Newsletter time: Is Taylor Hearn the Texas Rangers Pitcher of the Year? He's built a strong case.
The left-hander logged his third straight quality start Sunday as the Rangers took 2 of 3 weekend games from Oakland.
The field for Texas Rangers Pitcher of the Year isn’t exactly loaded, not after right-handers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy were traded away to Philadelphia.
Technically, they are still eligible for the end-of-season award determined by media covering the team on a regular basis.
Of the pitchers who have been on the roster wire to wire, or close to it, a front-runner for the honor has emerged.
It’s left-hander Taylor Hearn, the reliever-turned-starter who pitched his third straight quality start Sunday in a 4-3 victory over the Oakland A’s. The Rangers don’t return to Oakland Coliseum until next season, so they have plenty of time to get caught upon their rabies and tetanus vaccines.
“You can’t make an argument, for sure. He’s been really really good, especially not starting the way in the rotation,” manager Chris Woodward said. “The way he’s adjusted to that role and grabbed it and seized it has been really really impressive. He’s probably been, arguably, our biggest success on the year.”
Hearn figures to be in the rotation full time next season. He hasn’t won a spot yet — that will have to wait until spring training — but at this point only Dane Dunning has a stronger case. They might be in a dead heat for POY.
Hearn, who allowed three runs in six innings to the A’s, improved to 6-4 with a 3.99 ERA but 4-1 with a 3.94 ERA in his past five starts.
Hearn didn’t record a strikeout in the first five innings as he pitched to contact, which is his preferred style of pitching despite ownership of a fastball that can reach the mid-90s.
His mantra is three pitches or less to each hitter. He wants the innings more than the strikeouts.
“It’s just my mentality of trying to get ahead and stay ahead and not trying to chase strikeouts,” said Hearn, who struck out two. “I’d rather have seven innings of two strikeouts rather than five innings and a ton of punchouts.”
A team clawing for the postseason can’t lose 2 of 3 games to the fourth-worst team in baseball, but that’s what the A’s did.
The Rangers are playing spoiler, one of the few motivations they have left as the season comes to an end. Up next are the Astros, White Sox and Yankees — contender, contender, contender.
“You’ve got to find motivation no matter what situation you’re in,” Woodward said.
The Rangers went 9-10 this season against Oakland. Those nine wins account for 17% of the Rangers’ win total (53). Oakland pitched right-hander James Kaprielian six times against the Rangers, including Sunday when he allowed four runs in 3 2/3 innings.
There was a familiarity factor in play over the weekend, but the Rangers played well against the A’s all season.
“We match up well with them for some reason,” Woodward said. “We match their grind. We’ve pitched well against them. We’ve attacked these guys, and offensively we’ve faced a lot of the same guys.”
Friday: Daughter had softball practice.
Saturday: Daughter had a morning soccer game. Son had two evening baseball games.
Sunday: Wife had a boozy brunch. Son had another baseball game.
The Wilsons were busy over the weekend, and I’m guessing many of you were, too. No problem. Here’s what was at the Texas Rangers Newsletter in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: Josh Jung is staying put.
Friday on the Farm: Bayron Lora juggles tragedy and baseball.
T.R.’s Memoirs: The Rangers were on the road in Sept. 11, 2001.
Speaking of Alexy, it’s Episode III of the Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast.
Me after watching a Rangers game when they’re on the West Coast. No more West Coast trips this season! Enjoy. See you Tuesday.