Rangers-A's Matchup to Watch: Joey Gallo vs Oakland's Left-Handed Pitchers

Chris Halicke

The Texas Rangers' offense hasn't gotten off to the start they wanted. They've shown flashes of their potential, but it's been wildly inconsistent. Even in the 7-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the offense was stagnant until a five-run outburst in the eighth inning. 

The Rangers scored nine runs in Sunday's win over the San Francisco Giants and was unequivocally the best collective performance from the offense this season. It was also Joey Gallo's best performance, going 3-for-4 with a single, double, and a three-run home run in the seventh inning to help put the game out of reach. He also registered a walk.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward had some high praise for Gallo following his impressive performance at Oracle Park. 

“It’s pretty special what he’s doing right now,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s by far the best player on the field every time he steps out there.

“Everything he’s doing right now is showing the rest of our team like, ‘Jump on my back. I’m the best player in baseball.’ There may be not another more talented player in all of baseball.”

That's some lofty praise for a league that includes players like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Cody Bellinger. 

There's no doubt 2019 was a great year for Joey Gallo. He took a brand new approach to the plate that improved his already impressive patience and made him a more complete and lethal hitter. But Gallo only played 70 games last year. There's no guarantee he could replicate that success in 2020.

So far in 2020, we've seen the same guy from 2019. We may even see a better version of Gallo. Averages at this point of the season are difficult to gauge, but he has a 1.153 OPS in the first eight games and has only struck out one more time (7) than he's walked (6). He's much more hungry than last season, given the COVID-19 situation from the outset of camp and the drive to prove last year was not a fluke.

The series that begins in Oakland on Tuesday night will give the Rangers a tough challenge. Tuesday night's starter Jesús Luzardo and Wednesday night's starter Sean Manaea are both tough left-handed pitchers that could give the lefties on the Rangers a tough time. 

Luzardo is Oakland's No. 1 prospect and has a dangerous three-pitch mix that works against either right- or left-handers. Manaea is especially tough against left-handed hitters. In 437 plate appearances against them in his career, Manaea has only walked 16 hitters and given up only eight home runs (50.5 AB/HR against).

Even as a left-handed hitter, Gallo still poses a threat. Not only have all three of his home runs this year come off lefties, he has 26 home runs against left-handed pitchers since 2018—more than all other left-handed hitters in baseball. He's one of the few lefties on the roster Chris Woodward won't hesitate to put in the lineup.

As this series gets underway, this is definitely the matchup to watch. Oakland's pitching is a big reason why they are 6-4 and Joey Gallo has proven he can turn the tide of a game with one swing of the bat, no matter who is on the mound.

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