Mar 2, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis (48) throws the ball against the Chicago White Sox in the eighth inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY
The Texas Rangers starting rotation is currently put together like a square peg in a round hole, but that will soon start to change. Colby Lewis is getting very close to returning to the starting rotation and it appears likely it could happen as early as this week.
One reason it seems likely he could return is because of the current structure of his contract. There is wording in there that allows him to walk away from the Rangers if they do not move him up to the majors by April 10th. It does seem highly unlikely he’ll walk away that easy.
Round Rock: Lewis did pitch well in his rehab assignment this past Sunday for the Round Rock Express. He pitched 5 innings only allowing 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks and 2 strikeouts. It wasn’t an outstanding outing for Lewis, but from what I saw from the game was a bit of the old Colby Lewis. I was able to see Lewis get batters off balance and swing at some pretty nasty pitches. There were a few times the batters would swing away and the ball would just drop.
In my opinion, Lewis did have one of his best outings so far, it does still need some work though. If I had to say, he’s probably about 90% ready. Another positive from yesterday’s game was he was able to get in his 5 innings and 98 pitches. Hopefully he can pitch deeper in a game, but the Express did have a key error in the first that didn’t help Lewis’s day.
Major League Matters:And that’s another point to consider. With a major league defense behind him, he’s bound to have an easier day. No discredit to the guys with the Round Rock Express, but major league players will have less errors, dropped ball, passed balls and more outs where they should be. To put it simple, more outs over less pitches.
Options:For the Rangers, they might want to see Lewis get in one more start,which Lewis would have to agree with and that could happen. But there is the other side of the conversation for the Texas Rangers, which is what to do with Joe Saunders. He was hit hard and often during his outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. Every pitch for him was a battle to find the strike zone. Saunders in his day was a great pitcher, but right now he’s struggling with command and maybe even confidence. So what do you do with him? He was hit by a line drive during the game against Tampa, so there is the option to place him on the DL and to allow him to get a few starts in the minors to rehab his ankle.
If the Texas Rangers do send Joe Saunders down to the minors and bring up Lewis we might see the same results out of Lewis that we did out of Saunders. But, in my opinion, I think we’ll see a lot better performance than we did out of Saunders. And you may ask why! But to me, watching them both pitch I see a few things. Lewis shows confidence on the mound and I don’t feel the same way about Saunders. Saunders seemed stressed and labored each pitch. Lewis seemed calm, collected and a man on a mission. Also, the pitches that Saunders threw didn’t seem to fool anyone. Basically for Saunders you just allowed them to sail by for a ball. After he was down in the count, hit the one right down the middle. For Lewis, he was pitching well and it was almost vintage Lewis on Sunday. I’m hopeful with a few more starts, he’ll add a little bit more velocity and finish dialing in his command. With that said, it seems like to me that Lewis easily has the advantage of the who do you start conversion.
Time to decide: The Texas Rangers have an off day on Thursday. If there is a decision this week, I would expect them to announce it by then. That give them time to decide on Saunders also. If and when a decision is made, we’ll follow up on the story. I’m pulling of for Lewis to make his comeback. He was awesome in 2011 and even better in the play offs. He could be a big part of the Rangers 2014 season.