Injury Bug Bites Hard - When Josh Lindblom stepped off of the mound last night he did so not knowing when his next start for the Texas Rangers would come. If the last 15 months have taught us anything, he probably won’t have to wait very long.
For the second consecutive year the Rangers have made the health of their rotation in 2011 stand out like the fluke that it was. That year the Rangers entered the season with a starting rotation of C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando. Those five pitcher accounted for 157 of the teams 162 games started. Dave Bush (3) and Scott Feldman (2) started the other 5 games.
In 2012 the Rangers rotation was Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, and Neftali Feliz coming out of Spring Training. They received 111 starts from that opening day rotation, as Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis were lost for the season, Derek Holland struggled to recover from a stomach bug that took 15 pounds off of his already thin frame, and the team never found a reliable option for the back of the rotation. In the 51 games that the original starting five did not start, Texas had a 24-27 record while the starting pitchers posted a 5.69 ERA and 1.513 WHIP.
Josh Lindblom’s start yesterday marked the 15th start made by a Ranger not in the opening day starting rotation in 2013. In those fifteen game the Rangers starters have a 5.11 ERA and 1.556 WHIP, while the team has managed a 9-6 record. That’s not even factoring in the 11 starts made by Nick Tepesch, who the Rangers were hoping would have been replaced by a healthy Colby Lewis by this point in the season.
The good news is that Colby Lewis seems more optimistic about the progress he’s made on his second go-round of rehab, and will probably begin throwing from the mound next week. Matt Harrison is also on the verge of taking a positive step in his recovery from two back surgeries as he gets ready for his first throwing session. A return of either of these two in the season’s second half could have the same impact as a deadline deal, or be the cherry on top of a Cliff Lee sunday.
However, another injury to a cog in the rotation might be too much for this team to handle.
It’s Okay To Criticize Kirkman - The news of the return of skin cancer on Michael Kirkman’s right triceps is sobering. Immediately the sentiment on Twitter was thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery, and a lot of self kicking over being so hard on Kirkman as he struggled mightily in his last three appearances. In two innings thrown, including an outing against Boston where he failed to record an out, Kirkman allowed 6 ER and the only runner he inherited to score on 10 hits and 2 walks.
It’s understandable to feel regret for kicking a guy who it turns out is dealing with something as evil as cancer, and it’s very possible that waiting for the results of the biopsy weighed heavy enough on his mind to have a negative effect on his last few outings. Still though, he had a job to do and he did not do it well.
Michael Kirkman doesn’t sound like he’s feeling sorry for himself at all, and he’d probably be the first to admit that he has hurt his team with the way he’s pitched since the regular season started.
Time To Get Fat On CLE- Texas began a stretch of 20 games in 20 days with six games on the road and a 1.5 game lead over Oakland. After going 2-4 on that road trip and winning their first of 11 straight home games they now have a 1 game lead over the A’s.
The Rangers have two more games with the Indians and then four against the Blue Jays before a big 4 game series versus Oakland to close out the homestand. The Rangers are now 10-2 at home against the Indians since 2010, but are only 7-6 at RBiA when playing the Blue Jays.
Meanwhile, Oakland will play the Yankees three times at home before the Mariners come calling for three more. The A’s struggled when facing the Yankees up until their remarkable post 2012 All Star Break run. They stumbled to a 1-11 mark at O.Co since 2010, before a four game sweep of New York in mid-July last season.