Colby Lewis went the disabled list with forearm tendonitis just before the all-star break. He made one start, had more issues, got checked out and it turned out to be a full-blown season-ending injury. He has a torn flexor tendon and will be out 9-12 months.
Lewis will be missed, as he has been the team’s best October starter the last two seasons. He is a free agent after this year, and it’s going to be interesting to see if the Rangers bring him back on some minimal, one year type deal, stash him away on the 60 day DL until possibly after the all-star break and then put him back in the rotation at some point in 2013. I’m hoping that, for sentimental reasons, he sticks around for a while.
In other news, Roy Oswalt was scratched from his latest start, due to a recurrence of his chronic back problems. Oswalt’s situation doesn’t appear to be season-ending, but who knows when his aging body will fully recover.
But concerns persist elsewhere in the rotation. Neftali Feliz is technically on the mend, but he’s not pitched well in his rehab assignment starts. And more than likely, he will be returning to the bullpen once he’s back in the majors. Derek Holland remains inconsistent, the team and fans were hoping he could take another small step forward from last season’s second half success and sustain the level of performance his talent dictates he should after four years in the majors.
Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish have been the most reliable starters on the team this year. They will help anchor the Rangers’ rotation through the rest of this season into what should be another trip to October baseball.
But I’m not worried about September, I’m worried about October. The Rangers have two other starter candidates already on the roster in Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman, but Feldman isn’t a candidate for the rotation in October and Ogando has become an indispensable part of the bullpen despite some recent struggles coming back from the DL.
Trade options appear to be dwindling by the minute if that’s the avenue the team decides to take. The Tigers traded for Anibal Sanchez as part of a bigger package yesterday and had to part with top prospects Jacob Turner [P] and Rob Brantly [C], and it appears the Cubs are on the verge of trading Ryan Dempster to the Braves for top tier prospect, Randell Delgado. Cole Hamels looks like he might resign with the Phillies.
So who’s left? Matt Garza, Zach Greinke, Josh Johnson, James Shields [if he's put on the market], Huston Street (and put Ogando back in the rotation).
With the price of trading very high, do any of those names make you want to put a package together including Olt or Profar? I say no.
Yes, flags fly forever and renting Cliff Lee in 2010 helped get the team it’s first A.L. pennant in team history. But with Josh Hamilton seemingly leaving at years end, Mike Napoli being a FA after this season, and Nelson Cruz up for free agency after 2013, It might be wise to hang onto what looks like a potential power bat in Olt, whether the team moves him from 3rd to 1st or the outfield.
With Profar [SS] being rated the top position player in the minors and playing a position that the industry is very weak in, it makes no sense to move him even if Andrus is locked up through 2014. You have to figure he gets traded before or leaves after that year with Scott Boras as his agent.
Many think this team is good enough as is to make it a third trip to the World Series. While I don’t think it’s impossible for the team as is to make their third straight World Series appearance, I do know it’s very unlikely to do so even if they trade for one of the above mentioned guys.
Since 1970, only the ’72-’74 Athletics, the ’76-’78 Yankees, the ’88-’90 Athletics and the ’98-’01 Yankees are the only teams to make three straight World Series appearances. Some luck is involved in October as well.
It’s a tall task to pin championship hopes on a rotation containing so many question marks in late July, but they have a chance and the minor league prospects to make a trade if they so choose. But unless the back third somehow gets resolved through health, improved performance, trade, or some combination of those, a third straight World Series is even MORE unlikely.
Regardless, because of the Colby Lewis injury, the Rangers in 2013 will start a different Opening Day pitcher for the fifth time in five years, and the team no longer has any starting pitchers who started the 2010 World Series left in their rotation.