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: At long last, the Blue Jays find themselves with a better record than the Red Sox and Yankees. The only problem is that it is still only May 25th and the Orioles have picked this season to stop treating games like a stage for absurdist theater performances. That means Toronto's 24-21 record is only good enough for third place in a division that figures to get even better as the year progresses.
Past 2012 Meetings: The Jays took two of three from the Rangers in a series that ended April and kicked off May. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The Rangers haven't won a series in Toronto since 2008, so how nice for them that the rematch comes deep in the heart of Texas.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Brandon Morrow (5-2, 2.63 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (3-3, 4.27); Saturday - Henderson Alvarez (3-4, 3.30) vs. Colby Lewis (4-3, 3.30); Sunday - Kyle Drabek (4-4, 3.27) vs. Yu Darvish (6-2, 3.05)
What's Hot: The Rangers played 20 straight days leading into Thursday's day off, the longest streak possible under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and they definitely seemed to be on fumes in the last few games. A little rest and recuperation should serve them well as they draw closer to the hot, summer months when there's little relief from the grind.
Morrow has long been one of the biggest teases in baseball. He's blessed with every tool you need to succeed as a big league pitcher, but hasn't ever seemed to put it all together over an entire season. This could be another tease, but his first two months have provided plenty of evidence that Morrow is taking a leap to becoming the pitcher everyone long thought was inside him.
There doesn't seem to be much need for in-season tweaks to the Rangers bullpen this year. It has been the most consistent part of the team to this point and there's not much reason to expect things will start going the other way. That's a significant change from past years and one the team should continue to exploit.
What's Not: Remember how we said the Rangers were dragging a bit? They hit .167 in the series against the Mariners, well below what you expect to see from a team as talented as this one is offensively. The lineup has been down for a while -- Josh Hamilton hasn't homered in 11 games! -- and needs to get back into gear.
In some ways, Colby Rasmus is the Morrow of outfielders. Since he hit the big leagues, there's been a pretty much unanimous opinion that he's got all the tools to succeed. Unlike Morrow, though, Rasmus hasn't actually provided too many glimpses that his breakthrough is right around the corner. This season has been no different thanks to a 656 OPS.
The Rangers walked 25 hitters on their road trip, 20 percent of their total for the season and way too many to sustain any kind of winning ways. It's a big concern for Darvish, who hasn't yet shown the ability to consistently avoid giving away free baserunners in his brief Rangers career.
Familiar Faces: Do you remember when Omar Vizquel was a Ranger? You're forgiven if you don't since it was just a 62-game drop in the bucket of a player with more than 2,900 under his belt. Vizquel doesn't hit much, but he can still field and that's remarkable enough for a player born when LBJ was President of the United States.