Derek Holland to the DL, Alexi Ogando a Starter: Texas Rangers piece together wounded pitching staff


I was all geared up to write about the Texas Rangers top draft picks this week and give the fans a little insight on the future of the organization, then thishappened: 25 year old southpaw Derek Holland was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder fatigue Thursday. Holland is the second Rangers starter to go to the DL in the last two week, Neftali Feliz went out with elbow inflammation.  Holland was fighting a stomach ailment that he said made him lose 15 pounds.  This illness probably contributed to fatigue in his left arm.  Holland was 5-4 in 12 starts with a 5.10 ERA, its uncertain when he will be able to return.

Holland’s injury will force Ron Washington and Mike Maddux to shuffle the rotation and bullpen around to fill the spots left by Holland and Feliz. The first move is putting Alexi Ogando into the rotation.  Ogando has been very good as the Rangers 7th inning pitcher this year, but not long ago he was starting and doing quite well.  In 2011, he was 9-3 with a 2.10 ERA through June 8th, and he finished the season 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA, which was good enough to earn him his first trip to the mid-summer classic.  Alexi started to look tired toward the end of last season, his first throwing a large amount of innings at the MLB or MILB level.  His inability to stay strong at the end of the season is part of the reason the Texas Rangers signed Yu Darvish and inserted Neftali Feliz’s in the starting rotation. Ogando was relegated to the bullpen where he’s posted a 2.27 ERA in 31.2 innings.

In theory Ogando seems like he should be able to slide right into the rotation and do what he did last year.  The biggest concern with Ogando is that he hasn’t pitched more that 2 innings in any game this season and his arm is geared to pitching frequently but only for a few innings. Scott Feldman, a long relief pitcher used far less frequently than Alexi, has had no success since  he left the bullpen and joined the starting rotation. We wont know more about Holland’s injury until he’s checked out more by team doctors, but depending on when Holland/Oswalt/Feliz are ready to pitch, we could see a lot of Ogando as a starter.  His absence from the bullpen will require major changes. Ogando was one of the most versatile relievers in baseball. He had the ability to pitch semi-long relief, setup, and he had the stuff to close games. The Texas Rangers will have to utilize several players to fill Ogando’s many roles in the bullpen.

 Robbie Ross

Happy go lucky rookie Robbie Ross, known by fans for the cowboy getup he wears before games, will be counted on more to pitch the 6th and 7th innings in addition to being the only pitcher in the bullpen who can do long relief. If you need a little background on Ross, I wrote more extensively on him earlier in the season. He’s pitched very well this season, going 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 30.0 innings after coming out of nowhere to earn a spot in spring training. Ross was a starter in the minor leagues, so many thought he would would get a shot to start when Holland went down, but the Rangers don’t seem to think the same way. Robbie Ross will be now be shouldering alot of the load in the bullpen instead.

Tanner Scheppers

Tanner Scheppers was the 1st(44) round compensation pick by the Rangers in 2009. In 2010, he was rated the #42 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America.  Scheppers has had an up and down career in the Rangers farm system. He made a few starts, but most of his work was in relief, so the Rangers see his potential as a solid middle relief or setup man.  After hearing he was going to be called up Scheppers said, “It’s definitely a dream come true. I’m glad the Rangers are giving me an opportunity. I want to go out and help the team any way I can.” Scheppers journey to the big leagues has been stalled a bit by injuries: he had a shoulder injury that made him fall to the Rangers at 44 back in the 2009 draft and a back injury that started last season in AA, but he’s kept working and is finally getting his chance.  He pitched 1.2 innings in Thursday’s 7-1 loss to the A’s: he struck out the first batter he faced, but allowed one hit that was a solo home run that didn’t effect the final outcome.  I’ve been exited to see him play since the Rangers drafted him in 2009, I think he will be here to stay even once the pitching staff gets healthy and be able to make an impact for the Texas Rangers this year and in the future.

Other notes/upcoming schedule

The Rangers have struggled mightily in the last 10 games winning only 3; all of the victories were against AL West teams.  The Angels, Mariners, and Athletics have been shut out 25 times this season, but the Rangers are 10-12 against them.  It is unclear what is wrong with this team, but they are not playing anywhere close to the level they were at just a month ago. The continuing injuries to the pitching staff will test them even more in the near future.

Roy Oswalt pitched 4 innings, gave up 6 hits and 5ER while striking out 4 last night in his second AAA start. He gave up a grand slam, so it could have been a much better outing but he continues to work at getting to the big league club.

The Rangers next 15 games are interleague games against the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, and Colorado Rockies.  National league teams generally pitch better than AL teams but don’t score as many runs, the Rangers will need their offense to come alive to make this a successful interleague stretch.

What do you think the Rangers need to do to get out of the funk they are in? How worried are you with the injuries to the Rangers young pitchers? Project the Rangers record over the next 15 games, what do you come up with?

If you would like to submit a question to be included in one of my articles you can email me at or DM on twitter: @justinbrumit

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