For all that's gone wrong for the Yankees this season injury-wise, all they need to do is look across the diamond on Monday to realize how lucky they are. Despite losing four of their five original starters to the disabled list and a number of bats for various stints, including Mark Teixeira right now, they're still very much in the American League East and Wild Card pictures.
In other words, they're not the Rangers, who have seen their roster ravished even more so by the injury bug and occupy the AL West cellar.
The two teams will square off for the fifth time in eight days, this time at Globe Life Park. For the Yankees it marks the beginning of a six-game road trip against last-place teams, the Rangers and Red Sox, and therefore a stretch that seems particularly ripe for building a more comfortable spot in the playoff picture.
"People [ask], when you're playing teams that are struggling, 'Is this a chance for you to move up?'" New York manager Joe Girardi said. "Yeah, but you don't know how well they'll be playing when you get there. You could say that we were struggling a little bit, and all of a sudden, we've played extremely well at home. You want to try to take advantage of certain situations, but it really comes down to [having] to outplay the other team. If you don't play well, no matter who you're playing, you're not going to win."
Monday's starter, David Phelps, is certainly among those who have been playing well. In eight starts over the last month and a half, he has a 2.96 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, and has limited opponents to a .228/.294/.367 slash line. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all but one of those games.
His most recent start -- on Wednesday against the Rangers -- was his first career complete game, albeit a rain-shortened, five-inning effort. He allowed one run on five hits to pick up the win, his fourth straight positive decision.
Phelps' opponent on that soggy Bronx night will also be the man on the mound on Monday: Yu Darvish.
Darvish (2.92 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) has struggled -- at least relative to what has become his norm -- during the same span in which Phelps has excelled. He's posted a 4.61 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in his last seven outings, five of which the Rangers lost.
Darvish went 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs against the Yankees in that rain-shortened game, throwing only 67 pitches in what ended as his second career complete game.
"I try not to think about it and just want to go deep in the game as much as possible," Darvish said.
Yankees: Teixeira takes step toward still-uncertain return
Sunday marked a week since Teixeira last played a game, a mild strain in his lower left lat keeping him sidelined since. He fielded ground balls and took some swings in an indoor batting cage before the Yankees' finale vs. the Blue Jays, but when he'll be able to return to the lineup remains to be seen.
"We'll re-evaluate where he is [on Monday]," Girardi said. "Hopefully, he's a player for us pretty soon here."
Catcher Brian McCann has manned first base in the absence of Teixeira and Kelly Johnson, who is out with a strained groin.
Teixeira's unavailability -- without going on the disabled list -- has hamstrung the Yankees in terms of roster flexibility. With Teixeira out and New York carrying 13 pitchers, Girardi only has two bench players at his disposal.
Rangers: Jeter making final appearance in Arlington
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is retiring after this season, will make his final appearance against the Rangers in Arlington this week.
Jeter has played 162 games against the Rangers in his career, including 16 in the postseason. The Yankees have a 102-60 record in those games, and Jeter has a .323 batting average against Texas. He has racked up 213 hits, 118 runs, 37 doubles, six triples, 24 homers and 92 RBIs.
"The guy has always been a winner," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He has made the people around him a winner. He makes a difference. You can't say that about everybody. He has been a special guy. He is a winning player."
The Rangers will honor Jeter before Wednesday's game.
• The Yankees took three of four from the Rangers in the Bronx last week.
• With Sunday's loss to the A's, the Rangers have dropped their first three series and seven of 10 games following the All-Star break.
• The Rangers have been playing short-handed on the bench but should have pitcher Jerome Williams available out of the bullpen on Monday. Williams went six innings as a starter on Friday in beating the Athletics.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.