Posted on September 2, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Texas Rangers began September with hopes of reaching the postseason, albeit slim hopes. However, their path to the wild card just got a lot more difficult. Third baseman Adrian Beltre has been sidelined with a hamstring injury the team believes will keep him out for at least the next four weeks. The loss of Beltre creates a huge hole in the Texas lineup at the most important time of year.
Beltre left Thursday’s game after trying to field a slow roller to third base. He almost immediately knew that the injury was bad news.
“Right now, I don’t think so. I can’t play with this,” Beltre said when asked if he could play through the injury. “But again, let’s see what happens tomorrow with the MRI, and then we can see how it goes”
Friday’s MRI revealed a Grade 2 strain of Beltre’s left hamstring. Beltre is optimistic that he’ll heal quickly, but at age 38, that may not be realistic.
“It’s disappointing,” Beltre said of his prognosis. “They say it’s going to be four weeks, but I’m a quick healer.”
Beltre missed almost two months at the start of the season because of a calf injury that was slow to heal. After making his season debut in late May, Beltre has had one of the best seasons of his career. He’s hitting .315 with an OPS of .946, contributing 16 home runs in just 80 games. It will be difficult for the Rangers to replace that kind of production over the next month.
“You’re playing so well, got a shot to come to the postseason, pretty much everybody healthy playing together, and I felt like I’m letting the team down,” Beltre said Thursday. “I was out for a long time, I was good enough to help this ballclub win some ballgames, and now this. It’s disappointing.”
Joey Gallo, who has split time between first base, third base, and left field this season, figures to get most of the action at the hot corner in Beltre’s abscence. He has provided plenty of power this season, smashing 36 home runs. However, Gallo struggles to hit for average, posting an average of just .207 despite an OPS of .897.
With expanded rosters, the Rangers have also brought up a couple of options from the minors in Jurickson Profar and Will Middlebrooks. Profar, a once highly rated prospect, has had limited opportunities in the majors this season. He’s hitting just .172 in 58 at-bats. However, his numbers at triple-A are solid, hitting .286 with an OPS of .816. Middlebrooks is a true third baseman. He’s hit .258 with 23 home runs at triple-A this season. However, he’s just a .228 career hitter in the majors.
The Rangers began Friday a four games out of the second wild-card spot. They also have a few teams to leap frog in order to get into one of the wild-card spots. Earlier this summer, the Rangers weren’t expecting to be serious playoff contenders. But they’ve managed to remain in contention, in part because of Beltre’s productive season. With Beltre going down, perhaps for the rest of the season, the door may be closing on whatever slim hopes the Rangers had of returning to the postseason.