I remember talking to Colby Lewis on May 4th in the visitors clubhouse in Toronto. The topic of the day was a six man rotation. You see Yu Darvish was getting close to returning from Tommy John Surgery, and we wondered what the Rangers would do with all these pitchers who were all pitching so well. Colby was all for a six man rotation. He reminded us that he had been a part of one in Japan and, of course, so had Darvish.
That six man talk is comical now of course. In the three weeks leading up to the All Star break, the Rangers were operating with a three man rotation and hoping that Nick Martinez, Chi Chi Gonzalez or Kyle Lohse would grab hold of the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation. None of them did and there is the answer to the recently oft-asked question, “What’s wrong with the Rangers?”
Let’s go back to June 21st, the Rangers were 46-26 – a full 20 games over 500. But on that night Colby Lewis, who was two outs away from a no hitter in his previous start, complained of tightness in his triceps. The warrior that he is, Colby pitched through it until he had to finally exit in the 5th, and the Rangers lost to the Reds 8-2. Soon after Lewis was placed on the disabled list….the 60-day DL! He is not eligible to return until August 21st.
On the same day Derek Holland was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation. Ultimately, he too was moved to the 60-day DL. That’s a full 40% of the starting rotation on the disabled list for two months in the middle of the season.
The Rangers managed quite well without Yu Darvish who made only a couple of starts before landing back on the DL. Still, for three weeks before the All Star break, this team was without 60% of it’s expected starting rotation. That is what this slump has been all about. Darvish is back now and beginning to look like the Darvish of old. But neither Holland or Lewis will be back before the last week of August. That will leave the Rangers just over a month to right the ship.
That’s why, as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, pitching must be the priority. I know that sounds so familiar but it is so true. It is virtually a constant in the game of baseball, you always need more pitching.
Good news Rangers fans, the team will get more pitching. General Manager Jon Daniels and his baseball operations department have proven that they will do what it takes to put a winner on the field. JD told me recently that he relishes the opportunity that the trade deadline provides. “This is the time of year when we can really contribute,” Daniels said. The competitor in him wants to give the clubhouse exactly what it needs. While at the same time sending a message to the players, that ownership and management are “all in.”
Is White Sox ace Chris Sale exactly what this team needs? Perhaps, but to get him you better be willing to part with Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo (you also might want to hide the scissors on alternate jersey night). Sale seems like a long shot for the Rangers, but then again so did Cole Hamels, and JD not only figured out how to get that done, but he got the Phillies to throw Jake Diekman in as well.
Stay tuned, the Rangers will get some more pitching. In fact, maybe by the end of the year that six man rotation will be necessary after all.