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: If you're looking for the most disappointing team of the first half, you won't have to look far to find someone nominating the Tigers. Last year's ALCS opponent added Prince Fielder to the mix, more than making up for Victor Martinez's injury, but things have not worked out exactly how anybody hoped. At 35-37, the Tigers aren't dead but they are making things difficult on themselves.
Past 2012 Meetings: The Rangers split four games in Detroit in April, one of their most fruitful visits to a stadium that hasn't been particularly kind to them over the years. They won't return to Michigan this season as the final series of the year between the teams is also in Texas.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95 ERA) vs. Justin Grimm (1-0, 4.50); Tuesday - Drew Smyly (2-2, 3.96) vs. Yu Darvish (9-4, 3.45); Wednesday - Doug Fister (1-4, 2.72) vs. Roy Oswalt (1-0, 1.35)
What's Hot: Interleague play was pretty kind to the Rangers, but we're still happy to bid it a fond farewell until it becomes an everyday thing next season. That's not a particularly pleasant state of affairs, although it will make us sentimental about the good old days with a dedicated block of interleague play. The timing has worked well as the end of interleague means you've reached the point of the season when you really lock in on pennant races.
Oswalt got a nice easy opponent to welcome him back to the big leagues in the Rockies, but that didn't make his performance any less enjoyable. Oswalt's 6.2 innings showed a little rust that he will have to knock off in time for a date with the Tigers offense, but it was more than good enough to create confidence in his ability to do so.
Fister got hurt in his first start of the season and missed a month, but he's returned looking a lot like the pitcher who helped the Tigers so much last season after arriving from Seattle. He's had one disaster start in his seven outings since coming off the DL, solidifying a disappointing rotation.
What's Not: If you're betting Monday night's game, you might want to take the over. Porcello gave up nine runs in his April start against the Rangers and Texas' hitters have uniformly strong numbers against the Tigers starter. Grimm is likely to find that pitching to Detroit isn't much like pitching to Houston.
Alex Avila and Mike Napoli should talk because the Tigers catcher is having the same hard time as the Rangers catcher when it comes to following up a breakout 2011. Avila has lost 170-plus points of OPS, which isn't a diet that anyone should be trying to follow.
Josh Hamilton isn't ready to talk about his June slump, but he's just about the only one. Between his historic May and totally forgettable June, Hamilton is making one of the stranger salary drives in baseball history. Can't wait to see how it plays out on the big screen.
Familiar Faces: Joaquin Benoit's relief work has been a bright spot for the Tigers during an otherwise murky season. How unfortunate for the Rangers that they were on the wrong side of the injury that provided a Rookie of the Year-esque boost to his game.