Alexi Ogando And Troubling Realizations

Alexi Ogando succumbed to the long ball three times on Tuesday night, the Rangers offense failed to capitalize in a few key situations, and the Milwaukee Brewers handled Texas and its 8-game winning streak pretty soundly, 5-1.

Ogando was pulled after his 73rd pitch — a solo jack off the bat of Khris Davis — which put the Brewers up 4-1 in the top of the 7th. Alexi finished having allowed 4 ER on 6 hits, driving his post-disabled-list pitching line up to: 26.0 IP, 26 hits, 13 ER (4.50 ERA), with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11:11.

In short, it hasn’t looked pretty, to the point where it’s not unreasonable to question whether or not Ogando is pitching at full strength, or if the Rangers brought him back more out of necessity than practicality. Before, we’ve witnessed Alexi as a dominant relief pitcher. We’ve also seen him bounce back-and-forth between two variations of a starting pitcher: he’s either looked like a #3-type, or fledgling, like he is right now.

I can’t ever remember a time where he hasn’t been able to use the strikeout as a weapon, which, through everything I’ve written, is my biggest concern. Without the K, Ogando might as well be starting for the Twins or something.

It’s complicated though.

Yesterday we learned Matt Harrison will not be returning in 2013, which certifies Martin Perez‘s placement in the rotation for the rest of the year. It also means there is no obvious replacement for Alexi Ogando, whom, up until 24 hours ago, was assumed to move to the bullpen where his limited array of pitches tend to excel.

Unlike Nelson Cruz, whose contributions are overrated in reality, Harrison is a blow that will be felt, because his theoretical production is clearly superior to Ogando and Perez. It’s production the Rangers were banking on come September and the postseason, a spot more in question now than it was yesterday.

Nonetheless, that production will have to be picked up.

Thankfully, the schedule over the next 3 weeks is forgiving enough that the Rangers shouldn’t be terribly affected. It’s September I’m concerned with. Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Garza are all capable of catching fire and taking this team to the Promised Land themselves, but with how well Darvish and, particularly, Holland, have pitched in 2013, I’m not sure what more we can expect. If anything it would seem more logical for them to regress towards the negative, if for nothing else that they’ve each been absolutely brilliant in 2013, combining for nearly +9 fWAR.

It also, in a sense, transforms the role of Martin Perez. Over the last couple months I’ve been able to enjoy Martín’s starts, thoroughly, because it’s been under the assumption that eventually Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison would return, and that the great things he was doing on the bump were just a bonus.

Well, it’s no bonus anymore. He’s the 4th-best starting pitcher on the roster and he is going to have to continue being more good than bad or the Rangers are going to be in serious trouble, exacerbated by Alexi Ogando’s recent struggles.

The Darvish/Holland/Garza starts have become paramount overnight. We need Martin Perez to be what he has been. And, quite frankly, we need Alexi to be better than this.

He’s going to have to be, because he looks like the de facto 5th starter, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Unless… Michael Kirkman, anyone? And where the hell is Scott Feldman when we need him.



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  • Andy

    I can’t help wondering if Feldman would be an improvement over Ogando at this point. I wasn’t counting on either Harry or Colby to make it back, but I sure was hoping really hard they would. Oh well.

    One thing I’ve been tossing around is the idea of having Tepesch and Ogando form a Zincecum type of tandem. Tepesch has trouble getting through the lineup a 3rd time. Ogando is probably capable of tossing a couple of innings of middle to late relief, especially given that he can throw harder if so. It’s hardly an ideal situation, and it would basically assume that more than half of Ogando’s relief appearances are backing up Tepesch, but in theory it could work alright. Especially if the other 4 starters continue to work late into games and save the bullpen from being taxed every day.

    • Eric Reining

      It’s a terrible idea if you ask me, but at this point I’d be willing to exhaust any and all scenarios.

      I’m not a fan of tandem starters, just as a rule. I’d rather have one crappy starter (Tepesch) and one solid bullpen arm (Ogando) than try to fit them both in on the same day.

      Theoretically you’d have to give Ogando at least one day of rest before every Tepesch start, and by doing that you’d be a bullpen arm short on those nights.

      I don’t know what the solution is. Given the options I’d have to say Alexi is the 5th best starter in the organization, and I’d certainly rather have him on the mound for his 5 innings than a guy like Ross Wolf or Michael Kirkman.

      • Andy

        I suppose I’d rather have him out there than Wolf or Kirkman, but it seems like he’s worse than he actually has been, which isn’t good, either. His ERA over the last month is 4.68, and that’s a full run better than his FIP and xFIP. I keep thinking that one of these times he’s going to give up a 5-run inning and then some.

        I know we’re basically spoiled by 4 other pitchers that give us pretty quality outings most of the time, but it’s still annoying, especially when our offense sucks like it did last night. Gotta love 0-fer with RISP, which I fully expect to see often enough when we’re playing against a catcher than can actually throw runners out consistently.

    • primi_timpano

      I am all for a pitching platoon for the 5 spot. The question is whether Ogando qualifies as one of the platooned pitchers. His best pitch has been his fastball but my recollection of his last start is this pitch was in the low 90s. I wonder of there is a physical problem going on with him.

      I am unfamiliar with the rules for moving players back and forth from the farm teams, but until roster expansion could Tepesch be recalled to the bench roster every 5 games?

      • Andy

        I believe you can only be optioned every 10 games except in the event of an injury.

        And he might be hurt, but I’ve seen Ogando hit 98-99 before. He probably just doesn’t throw as hard when starting.

  • Andy

    Also, why can the Rangers not execute a fucking rundown? We have botched so many of those this year. So many.

    • primi_timpano

      The run down problem is inexcusable (though query, did AJP intercept a throw to the infielder covering the plate; even so, it is still bush league). Just as bad is the base running. I like the running game but some of the steal attempts seem to be poor decisions. Too many outs at third. I wonder if Petitt is the best person to coach 3b. With his running experience first may be a better spot for him.

      With the weak hitting lineup the team cannot afford to give away so many outs.

  • Brandon Land

    I just cried reading the mere mention of the name Michael Kirkman.