Rangers closer Frank Francisco is on thin ice

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Last night Frank Francisco blew his second save of the season and afterward manager Ron Washington would say only “stay tuned” when asked if he’d be sticking with the Rangers’ closer.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News only five pitchers in the previous five seasons blew at least two saves in the opening week, and of those five only Mariano Rivera kept the job all season.
Of course, setting aside the opening week factor plenty of closer blow two saves in a week. In fact, last year Francisco himself blew a save on June 25 and then another on July 1. And he bounced back to convert 13-of-15 save chances with 31 strikeouts and a .230 opponents’ batting average in 25.2 innings from that point forward.
However, as Grant notes Francisco’s velocity has slipped since he returned from arm problems last June and his control has been shakier than usual as well. Since returning from the disabled list last season he has a 7.39 ERA and has blown six saves in 19 chances.
Neftali Feliz certainly has a future as a closer if the Rangers decide he doesn’t have a future as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s also a 21-year-old rookie with four professional saves and has yet to pitch on back-to-back days. A closer-by-committee situation headed by Feliz and Darren O’Day is also an option, but for now we’ll simply have to follow Washington’s advice and “stay tuned.”

Red Sox, Astros announce lineups for ALCS Game 4

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Red Sox

RF Mookie Betts
LF Andrew Benintendi
DH J.D. Martinez
SS Xander Bogaerts
3B Rafael Devers
1B Steve Pearce
2B Brock Holt
C Christian Vázquez
CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.

SP Rick Porcello

With Eduardo Núñez banged up, Devers gets another start. Devers has hit well when he’s had an opportunity to play this postseason, registering five hits (all singles) with a pair of walks and a pair of RBI. Pearce gets a start against a right-handed starter. He normally kills lefties but ripped a solo homer off of righty Joe Smith in Game 3. Holt gets the start at second base, looking for his first hit of the ALCS.

Astros

3B Alex Bregman
CF George Springer
DH José Altuve
2B Marwin González
1B Yuli Gurriel
RF Josh Reddick
SS Carlos Correa
C Martín Maldonado
LF Tony Kemp

SP Charlie Morton

Bregman, not Springer, is now hitting leadoff for the Astros. It’s not that Springer has been bad; it’s just that Bregman has been an on-base machine. He has drawn a walk in every postseason game this year, including three in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS. Morton will be making his first appearance of the 2018 postseason. He was money down the stretch for the Astros last year en route to a championship.