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5 Observations From the Rangers Series

With the first series of the season in the books, let’s look back on some things that caught my eye.

1. Antonio Bastardo- Antonio Bastardo was used in the 8th inning of the first two games of the series and was very successful. In 2.1 innings pitched, Bastardo struck out two while walking one. Most importantly, he looked comfortable on the mound, utilizing all of his pitches. With Mike Adams still hurting, Bastardo looks to be the guy in the 8th inning. If  last night is any indicator, Bastardo could eventually be the closer if Papelbon continues to struggle.

2. Kyle Kendrick/A.J. Burnett- Both starting pitchers turned in solid performances against a very good Rangers lineup. Unfortunately, they each received no decisions. Burnett went six innings, giving up seven hits and one earned run. Kendrick was more impressive as he went seven innings, giving up five hits and one earned run. Both were aggressive in the strike zone, and let the defense do the work behind them.

3. Ryne Sandberg willing to alter the lineup- Sandberg did not go with the same lineup throughout the whole series. One night after the Phillies scored 14 runs on 17 hits, Sandberg elected to bat Ryan Howard 5th against a lefty, something that had not happened since 2008. He stuck Marlon Byrd in the cleanup spot and started the right handed Jayson Nix at third instead of Cody Asche. Perhaps a little bit of “over managing” on Sandberg’s part especially coming off a 14 run performance, but it looks like he will not hesitate to change the lineup depending on the opposing pitcher.

4. Spring Training, Shming Shmaining- Cody Asche (.170 spring BA), Chase Utley (.217 spring BA), and Ryan Howard (.227 spring BA) struggled throughout Spring Training. However, each found success in the opening series. Cody Asche batted .500 in 8 ABs with one home run and two RBIs,  Chase Utley batted .385  in 13 ABs with one double and one RBI, and Ryan Howard batted .301 in 13 ABs with one monster home run and two RBIs (he did strike out 7 times, however). While this is a very small sample, it is encouraging to see that each have come out of the gates swinging the bats relatively well.

5. Mario Hollands- Hollands made his MLB debut Tuesday night in a very tough spot; in a tie game in the 9th inning. Not the ideal spot to make your MLB debut. Hollands struggled, walking Shin-Soo Choo on four pitches, and later walked Prince Fielder as well. The game winning run was charged to Hollands. However, he got a second chance in eighth inning of last night’s game, and bounced back, having a 1-2-3 inning. In order to be a successful reliever, you must have a short memory. Hollands showed that last night.

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