On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2012 season.
The Opponent: The Royals continue to be the Linus Van Pelt of the American League. Linus waited for the Great Pumpkin every year and the Royals wait for the Great Prospect every year, but no one shows up in either case. They aren't as awful as they looked earlier in the season, but they are still a long shot to contend at any point in the near future.
Past 2012 Meetings: If the Rangers wind up losing the division to the A's, they can thank their 2-3 record in their first five games against the Royals. K.C. is exactly the kind of team you pad your record against and the Rangers have failed to do that this season.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Yu Darvish (13-9, 4.31 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (10-10, 5.13); Tuesday - Matt Harrison (15-8, 3.30) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (3-3, 3.86 since joining Royals); Wednesday - Ryan Dempster (4-1, 4.58) vs. TBA; Thursday - Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01) vs. Will Smith (4-7, 5.45)
What's Hot: Jurickson Profar certainly knows how to make a first impression, huh? By becoming the youngest player since new teammate Adrian Beltre to hit a home run, Profar lived up to all the advance billing. For one day, anyway. Now he needs to keep doing it, assuming Ron Washington keeps giving him chances to do it.
Eric Hosmer is one of those Great Prospects that the Royals have been looking to as a leader out of the swamp that's been their existence for far too long. He hasn't done a Profarian job of living up to that status this year, but he had a strong August and closing with a flourish would do much to keep optimism alive in Kansas City.
Monday's pitching matchup might not jump off the page, but it should be a good one. Darvish is coming off a very strong outing and Chen hasn't lost at home in four months. That probably means both men will struggle, but that's why we say should be a good one instead of will be a good one.
What's Not: Remember in The Princess Bride when Wesley tracks Vizzini across land and sea so deftly that Vizzini remarks, not for the first time, that it is inconceivable? The Rangers have to feel that way about the A's. They've won 11 of 15 and seen their lead shrink in the West because the A's simply will not lose. It would be a good idea for the Rangers to fatten up on the Royals, in other words.
Guthrie has pitched fairly well since coming over from Colorado and Chen's a beast at home, but the Royals pitching just isn't good enough top to bottom. There's supposed to be help coming, but glacial paces aren't appreciated in losing situations.
The Rangers have lost four straight games on Labor Day. We're sad about summer coming to an end, too, but that's no excuse for falling down on the job.
Familiar Faces: Jeff Francoeur had a 662 OPS in August. For most players, that's a sign of worry. It qualifies as a major accomplishment for Francoeur, who couldn't even hit 600 in the two previous months. Good thing Kansas City is set to pay him $7,500,000 next season.