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 2014 season.
The Opponent: The Detroit Tigers are the favorites, along with the Oakland A's, to win the American League pennant but they're coming off a sweep by the Indians.
Past Meetings: The Rangers went 4-3 against the Tigers last year, losing two of three at Comerica Park.
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Pitching Matchups: Thursday — Yu Darvish (3-2, 2.32 ERA) vs. Robbie Ray (1-0, 0.75); Friday — Scott Baker (0-0, 3.38) vs. Anibal Sanchez (1-2, 2.89); Saturday — Nick Martinez (0-1, 2.28) vs. Rick Porcello (7-1, 2.91); Sunday — Colby Lewis (3-3, 5.40) vs. Justin Verlander (5-3, 3.55).
What's Hot: Leonys Martin is hitting .375 over the last week, but has missed two straight games with neck stiffness after sleeping on it wrong prior to Tuesday's game. Adrian Beltre is starting to find his groove, hitting .316 with a homer over the last five games. Other than a struggling Aaron Poreda, the Rangers' bullpen has pitched well, led by 0.00 ERAs this week from Alexi Ogando, Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor, and now with Robbie Ross Jr., and Tanner Scheppers rejoining the bunch (Scheppers after a rehab assignment) the unit has a chance to be really good.
Ian Kinsler enters the series against his old mates on a hot streak, hitting .393 over the last six games with four doubles. Miguel Cabrera is hot, as always, hitting .500 in those same six games to go with a homer and five RBIs. Porcello has been great this season after seemingly close to losing his spot in the Tigers' rotation from time to time. In his last outing, he worked eight innings and allowed just one run to improve to 7-1.
What's Not: Colby Lewis somehow managed to get through six innings for the first time this season on Tuesday, but he gave up five runs along the way on nine hits. Michael Choice is 1-for-15 over the last week and has now seen his batting average dip below the Mendoza line.
Verlander, who the Rangers have traditionally hit well — albeit not these Rangers — surrendered 11 hits in six innings his last time out and gave up five runs in a losing effort. Denton native Austin Jackson is hitting just .105 over his last five games.
Familiar Faces: The Rangers and Tigers had an odd swapping of superstars in November, as the Rangers shipped Ian Kinsler to Detroit for slugging first baseman Prince Fielder. So far, Fielder has been a huge disappointment and isn't even making the trip to Detroit as he'll instead be visiting back and neck specialist Dr. Drew Dossett back in DFW. Scary stuff, there. Joe Nathan is now closing games for the Tigers after being the Rangers' ninth-inning guy in 2012 and 2013.