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.