The Worst Thing Ron Washington Can Do to the Texas Rangers
By Lee Stitzel
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Last night’s game against the Houston Astros was awful. The Texas Rangers dropped their seventh game in a row to last year’s MLB worst team, suggesting they will be this year’s worst team. It is as bad in Arlington as it has ever been. Yet, the most frustrating part of last night’s game was not the final score or the missed opportunities. The most terrible part of last night’s game was a pitch count.
The worst thing Ron Washington can do with this season is to burn out veteran players. This is exactly what he has been doing. Yu Darvish reached 113 pitches over four innings and change against Houston. It is no fun to see Darvish struggle but the pain of watching Darvish give up runs pales in comparison to the pain of watching Washington burn up his best starter by leaving him in for an absurd amount of pitches in a meaningless game. Last night’s game is no aberration either. Darvish has been routinely left in well past 100 pitches for no apparent reason. Perhaps Yu is different than other pitchers and pitch counts do not apply; maybe he has an arm made of iron. Even if this might be true, why would Washington push Darvish so hard this season? He is exposing Darvish to potential injury and could be limiting Darvish’s effectiveness towards the end of his stint in Texas. Why has Jon Daniels not given Ron Washington a stern lecture on the topic?
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2014 is lost and has been for some time. This season is about keeping veterans fresh, giving rookies experience and letting role players fight for a spot on next year’s team. Instead, Yu Darvish is starting every fifth day, Shin-Soo Choo is running on a bad ankle and Adrian Beltre never gets a day off. This team needs those three players to be healthy next year. If one of them gets hurt, or hurt worse, because Washington refuses to play them cautiously, it should be grounds for removing him prior to next Spring Training. Washington is already the worst manager in baseball but only he could ruin next year by driving his ace into the ground chasing wins in a season where Texas is sure to be the worst team in baseball after game 162.
The recipe for the remainder of 2014 is simple. Yu Darvish should start no more than once a week and should never reach 100 pitches, unless he is working on a no hitter. Texas needs Darvish to be sharp in 2015 and beyond. Choo and Beltre should have an off day every week, at least use them as a designated hitter. Jim Adduci, Daniel Robertson, J.P. Arencibia, and other veterans should get reps to see who lands a bench role next year.
Once rosters are expanded, Darvish, Beltre, Choo, and even other starters like; Leonys Martin, Elvis Andrus, and Alex Rios should get plenty of off days so September call ups can get a good look in the majors. Let Luke Jackson and Alex Gonzalez get some starts. The rotation is already in trouble. Give Brett Nicholas, Ryan Rua, Michael Choice, Jared Hoying, Tomas Telis, Luis Sardinas, and others plenty of plate appearances. The vets are going to be fine with only four starts a week in September. (Admittedly, my above list is unrealistic because of whom the current 40 man roster consists)
Instead, Washington will play Beltre every day and the only two position players we will see after September call ups will be Choice and Luis Sardinas in limited capacity. Good luck next year if Beltre pulls a quad, Choo rolls his ankle again or Darvish needs Tommy John this year.