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On Deck: Rangers Vs. Blue Jays

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    NEWSLETTERS

    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 2011 season.

    The Opponent: At 50-49, the Blue Jays have hardly set the world on fire this season. You have to wonder, though, what life would be like if they didn't have to share a division with the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays. Swap out the 18 games a year they have with those teams for 18 with the Royals and White Sox and you might be looking at a playoff team.

    Past 2011 Meetings: As a partial case in the point made above, we point out that the Jays took three of four from the Rangers back in April. Things are different now -- Kyle Drabek and Jesse Litsch both beat the Rangers in that series, but do their pitching for Triple-A Las Vegas now -- but the Jays aren't your typical fourth place team.

    Pitching Matchups: Friday - Jo-Jo Reyes (5-7, 4.94) vs. Colby Lewis (9-7, 4.07); Saturday - Carlos Villanueva (5-2, 3.31) vs. Matt Harrison (8-7, 2.91); Sunday - Brett Cecil (2-4, 5.77) vs. Alexi Ogando (10-2, 2.72)

    What's Hot: Rangers hitters got cooled off in the series finale at Anaheim, but returning home could be just the thing to get them back on track. Michael Young is one of five Rangers hitting .346 or better in their last seven home games and Adrian Beltre has hit four homers in that span.

    Lewis is 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA in his last seven starts, a streak that he hopes will overcome his historical futility against the Jays. Lewis got crushed by them back in April and has gone 2-4 with a 9.35 ERA in his career against Toronto. Some of those starts were before he rediscovered his game in Japan, however, so we'll stick with the recent results as being the better indicator of his current ability.

    Injury has limited Jose Bautista to designated hitting the last few days, but the aches and pains haven't cost him too much at the plate. Bautista doubled and drove in two runs to help the team finish off a sweep of the Mariners. The AL's reigning home run king also has two homers off Lewis in his career so he might get off the homerless streak that's reached five games. 

    What's Not: A year after grabbing Cliff Lee and changing the fortunes of the franchise, the Rangers don't appear to be on the verge of making a big deal this time around. Some of that's the market and some of it is how well the team is playing, but we're still not sure about the fitness of the bullpen or Endy Chavez over the long haul.

    Aaron Hill appeared to be a player on the rise in 2009, but he's now had two straight subpar seasons for the Jays. He's hitting just .197 in July and the team has to be seriously considering passing on the contract option they hold on him for $8 million in 2012.

    Mitch Moreland remains a part of the lineup and he isn't likely to lose too much time against righties to Mike Napoli, but the moment is coming where we will all have to ask why Ron Washington remains so committed to him. He's been awful for a month and the team has other options to man first, especially if they choose to make a deal for a little offensive icing on the cake.

    Familiar Faces: Speaking of Napoli, it really seems like the deal that brought him to Texas for Frank Francisco is going to be a feather in Jon Daniels's cap. Nominally he's still in the mix for saves, but he's blown up quite often this season and no one is pining for him to be a part of the Rangers' admittedly mediocre bullpen.