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On Deck: Rangers at Tigers

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On Deck: Rangers at Tigers

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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: It's three games with the Detroit Tigers in Comerica Park. In a pretty unusual scheduling quirk, all three games with the Tigers will be afternoon affairs, perhaps to take advantage of the depressingly high unemployment level in the state of Michigan.

Pitching Matchups: Monday - Alexi Ogando (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 3.86 ERA); Tuesday - C.J. Wilson (1-0, 2.84 ERA) vs. Brad Penny (0-1, 11.17 ERA); Wednesday - Dave Bush (Hasn't pitched this season) vs. Max Scherzer (2-0, 5.73 ERA) 

What's Hot: Miguel Cabrera hasn't let his February arrest for drunk driving get in the way of his consistently strong hitting. He's already hit four home runs this season and his 1236 OPS is good for fourth in the American League. Jhonny Peralta and Brennan Bosch are also swinging hot bats for the Motor City kitties.

Verlander has pitched well in each of his first two starts and he's a good bet to pitch well in his third turn as well. He's 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA in his last six starts against the Rangers with only Josh Hamilton having had any kind of success against the Detroit ace in his career. 

And we'll reserve a spot on the hot side of ledger for the Rangers as a whole until further notice. Yes, they lost a game in Baltimore (THE HORROR!!!) but everything continues to go their way.

What's Not: Anyone still wondering about the value of Adrian Beltre's glove should pop in a tape of Sunday's Tigers loss to the Royals. They made four errors, each one more ghastly than the one before, and they've made nine over the first nine games of the season. That's a big reason why the team is 3-6 at this point in the season.

Last year's Rookie of the Year runner up Austin Jackson continues to strike out at rates that will make him a contender for the league lead should he get enough trips to the plate. He isn't doing any of the positive things that made him the second choice after Feliz last season.

Bush's start should be an interesting one for the Rangers. Saturday's doubleheader leaves them short a starter for Wednesday and the team doesn't want to use Colby Lewis on short rest. Lewis will likely miss the Yankee series as well as he travels home to Dallas for the birth of his child. Bush hasn't pitched yet this season and a short start by Ogando or Wilson could leave the bullpen shorthanded on getaway day. 

Familiar Faces: There's only one former Ranger on the Tigers and it is one that Texas would probably like to have back. Joaquin Benoit had his moments over parts of eight different years in Arlington, but a torn rotator cuff in 2009 greased his way out of town. He had a terrific year with the Rays in 2010 and hasn't given up a run yet this season. He'd look pretty good in the Ranger pen this season. 

A big part of the problem with the 2011 Tigers is that the faces are too familiar. Penny, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen (currently hurt) and Brandon Inge are all on the wrong side of their career arcs and contribute to a roster that's short on the athleticism needed over a 162-game marathon. Jim Leyland, another very familiar face, is a great manager but he can't turn back time.  

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