Plan B – How the Rangers Can Stay Afloat in Spite of Injuries
By Dave Ervin
Yu Darvish’s blister, Colby Lewis’s arm, Neftali Feliz’s elbow, Derek Holland’s mustache. The injuries keep piling up on Ranger’s pitchers, and now fans have to swallow the pill that is Matt Harrison’s back. With Darvish missing only one start, the top of the rotation seems okay behind Yu and Alexi Ogando. But for a team that relied on its depth last season, Texas suddenly finds itself in the unfamiliar position of scrambling for pitchers to fill out the rotation.
So what can the Rangers do to shore up the damage until that fateful date of “after the all-star break” when, allegedly, half of their team will return? The way I see it, there are a few keys to the Rangers staying afloat and eventually winning the AL west, in spite of their pitching woes.
- The Kids Have to Step Up
With Martin Perez out of the picture (due to an injury, of course), young arms like Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm have got to perform. So far so good. The duo is 2-1 in three starts and Tepesch was brilliant in his major league debut against the Rays, allowing just one run and pitching into the eighth. Don’t expect these guys to blossom into superstars, but if they can continue to keep the team in games, and if Ron Washington and Mike Maddux limit their innings by taking advantage of off days, these youngsters could have a big hand in keeping the Rangers in contention.
- Yu Darvish Has to Be and Ace
Again, this looks like a likely scenario. Not only has Yu figured out the American game, but dating back to his last several starts in 2012, he has been dominant more often than not. Darvish already has 10 games in which he’s struck out 10 or more batters. That’s good for fourth on the Rangers all time list, and the guy’s in the infancy of his MLB career. Ranger fans expect big things from Yu, and for good reason.
- The A’s have to Start Losing
This one is largely out of the Ranger’s hands, but the two clubs do meet nine times before the All-Star break. Texas needs to go 5-4 at least. Oakland continues to go under the radar despite being the reigning division champs and getting off to a great start in 2013. Get used to it Baseball Fans, the A’s are the real deal.
- The Comebacks have to Come Through
If Texas can bank on Lewis, Harrison, Perez and Joakim Soria all returning to form from their various injuries it’ll be the equivalent of hitting the Trade-Deadline jackpot. I think the likely scenario is no more than two of them come back and are immediately impactful. The trick is to stay close in the division so their returns are meaningful. Again, those games against the A’s (and Angels – let’s not write them off just yet) loom large.
- Make a Splash at the Trade Deadline
All the talk is a potential trade for Mike Stanton or David Price. While a big bat would be huge for this club, the current state of things point toward the Ranger’s trading for a big arm. David Price won’t come cheaply. It’ll definitely take Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt (two untouchables who are suddenly on the table thanks to Elvis Andrus’ new contract) and word is it may require a major league arm in the package. The only guy that makes sense on that front for the Rays is Derek Holland, but if that’s the offer I say it’s way too steep.
Derek Holland for David Price isn’t quite a wash, but it’s close. Take a look at their stats for their last 72 games (including the postseason):
Price, W-32, L-22, ERA -3.25, SO/9 – 8.7
Holland, W-31, L-13, ERA – 4.09, SO/9 – 7.2
Price’s ERA points to the truth that he is the better pitcher, but Holland and the club’s two biggest prospects? Uh, no. A big trade at the deadline would help, but the Rangers can’t be stupid.
So for now Ranger fans get to wait around and see how things pan out over the next few months. Injuries hurt, but Jon Daniels and company have given us plenty of reason for optimism.