Rangers’ starter Matt Harrison left Tuesday night’s game with (gasp) a back injury after 1.2 innings and 55 pitches that contributed to an 8-0 loss to the Houston Astros. The Rangers are now 20-20, five games back in the division and in 4th place with question marks surrounding Harrison and young lefty Martin Perez, who is out indefinitely with elbow inflammation.
With Derek Holland sidelined until sometime in June or July, Joe Saunders rehabbing in the minors and Tanner Scheppers just now starting rehab for his ailing elbow muscle, things do not look promising for the Rangers pitching staff right now. Both Saunders and Scheppers were extremely ineffective in their first stint in the Rangers rotation, and their position in either the starting staff or bullpen is an unknown.
With Perez and Harrison down for the count and Robbie Ross struggling over his past three starts, Jon Daniels, Ron Washington and Mike Maddux have called on Nick Tepesch to toe the rubber Wednesday night in Houston. If Perez and Harrison go down for any extended period, the prospects to fill in the rotation become limited.
As of today, the rotation stands at Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch and fill-in-the-blank.
Your fill-in-the-blank candidates are the aforementioned Saunders, Nick Martinez sliding over from the bullpen or any number of guys in the minors.
The candidate from Triple-A Round Rock is Scott Baker, but he is not on the 40-man roster at the moment and a move would have to be made to clear his path to Arlington.
Double-A Frisco holds young arms in Luke Jackson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher, but bringing them to Arlington to help could stunt their development and would be an unusual move for Daniels considering the age and short professional experience of all three pitchers. They are exciting, but it is just too early.
So, here we go again with a decimated pitching staff, a struggling offense and not much help on the way. Many people have said the Rangers need to tread water until their regular players get healthy, me included. With the offense drastically underachieving, injuries stacking up like I-635 at rush hour and at least one other starter (Ross) struggling mightily, things look bleak today. Maybe tomorrow they’ll look better after a good performance from Tepesch and the Ranger offense.
It’s hard to be optimistic when a team plays a stretch like it has over the past few weeks, since the reinforcements aren’t Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. Heck, I’d settle for Bobby Witt and Roger Pavlik right now.
With Darvish and Lewis looking like vintage Darvish and Lewis and maybe a good few starts from Tepesch and/or Martinez and/or Baker and/or whoever, it is possible for Texas to stand its ground for a little while.
If the offense can perform like this offense should, things can and will look up in a hurry.
There are more question marks than the Riddler’s costume, but the offense can wipe out about half of them with an explosive run.
Stay positive, my friends....even though that is nearing an impossibility.