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: You might be fooled by the winning record, but the team rolling into Arlington for a weekend series really is the Kansas City Royals. The season has gotten off to a nice start for K.C. and they'll be looking to make a rare first place appearance if they can extend the Rangers' streak of losing series over the next three games.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Jeff Francis (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (2-1, 3.66); Saturday - Kyle Davies (1-1, 7.20) vs. Alexi Ogando (2-0, 2.33); Sunday - Bruce Chen (3-0, 2.42) vs. C.J. Wilson (2-0, 3.08)
What's Hot: Take a look at those numbers after Chen's name. They aren't a misprint and that is the same Bruce Chen that has been employed for most of his career simply because he throws with his left hand. Baseball is a wonderful game, not in the least because guys like Chen can have months like this.
Alex Gordon was supposed to be a big star when he first hit the major leagues in 2007, but he fizzled out time and time again. He's moved from third base to the outfield, spent a little more time in the bush leagues and, all of a sudden, he looks like a player with a future. He's hitting .354 with a 937 OPS as a major cog in the Kansas City machine.
Michael Young was a controversial figure throughout the offseason but everyone is probably pretty thrilled that he's still on the Rangers right now. Young's bat has been the most consistent on the team to this point and the Josh Hamilton injury has only made it a more significant part of the attack.
What's Not: Young's bat has helped fill some of the void, but it would be swell if Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler would start doing the same. They've hit .159 with no homers and two RBIs over the last six games, which makes it a lot less surprising to find that the Rangers have won just twice in that span.
The Royals have been very successful so far this season but they aren't going to beat you by hitting too many home runs. They've got just 12 long balls in 19 games this season, a deficiency that might signal a coming change of fortunes for one of baseball's biggest early surprises.
Age isn't hot in Kansas City. They've got just two players over 30 on their roster and the team figures to get even younger as their robust farm system graduates more players over the course of the season. Even if this strong early record doesn't hold, the future is very bright for the Royals.
Familiar Faces: Two members of last year's World Series team are now wearing Royal blue. Matt Treanor was dealt to K.C. just before the start of the season and he's doing his typical no-hit, good-field stuff behind the plate.
Jeff Francoeur has also migrated to Missouri and, like Chen, he's had a first month that defies all logic. He's hitting well and has drawn five walks in 80 plate appearances, which is restraint on the level of an obese guy eating only five french fries in 80 appearances in front of a plate of them.