Reviewing Alexi Ogando career with the Texas Rangers

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The Texas Rangers had until yesterday to offer a contract or enter arbitration with a player.  One of the non-tendered players was right-handed pitcher Alexi Ogando.  First, you might wonder what non-tendered means.  Basically it means that Ogando’s contract had expired with less than 6 years service in the majors and it was time for the Rangers to decide whether or not to sign him again or go to salary arbitration.  He was expected to get around $2.5 million next season.   Since he wasn’t tendered a contract or salary arbitration he is now considered a non-tendered free agent.

Our very own Lisa Weatherall wrote about Ogando yesterday in her article about the players the Texas Rangers non-tendered.  Here is what she had to say about it.

"I expected the Rangers to tender Alexi Ogando, partially because I thought the club had asked him not to pitch in the winter league, which led me to believe they wanted to ensure he stayed healthy. However, there are some in the media stating that his decision to not pitch in the winter league could have factored into the teams decision."

I was also a bit surprised by the Texas Rangers not making some kind of move to help bring him back for the 2015 season.  But, as Lisa said in her article he was pretty horrible in 2014 and there was speculation that he might be any better in 2015.   Last season he had a sky-high 6.84 ERA over 27 relief appearance/25.0 innings.

Ogando was once one of the Texas Rangers best relievers in the bullpen during the 2010 season.  Over 44 relief appearances/41.2 innings he had a 1.30 ERA.   At the end of the 2010 regular season he had the 3rd best ERA in the majors (among all pitchers with 40 or more innings) and was the best ever for a Rangers pitcher with 35 or more innings.  He started off the 2010 season with 8 scoreless appearances 11 innings pitched to begin his career, which is the second best behind Jeff Zimmerman who had 11.2 innings pitched in 1999.  Also, in 2010 he was the first major league pitcher to have 3 wins in his first 3 relief appearances since 1968.

Video: 6/15/10 Ogando’s Major League debut
Alexi Ogando works out of trouble to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, earning the win for the Rangers in his Major League debut

One of Ogando’s first injuries came during Game 4 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.

Maybe it was the long season, but you have to give credit where credit is due, Ogando pitched very well in 2010 and was one of several pieces that helped the Texas Rangers reach the World Series.

Video: 10/31/10 Ogando’s solid performance

Alexi Ogando retired five batters in a row before leaving the game with an injury

So, it’s easy to see that after the 2010 season there was a lot of excitement for Alexi Ogando.  The next season Ogando wanted to be in the starting rotation and the Texas Rangers figured they would give him a chance.  And why not? It worked out well with converting C.J. Wilson from the bullpen to the starting rotation.   But, it also helped out Ogando chances to be a started because Tommy Hunter went down during spring training and the Rangers needed a fifth starter in the rotation. During the 2011 season Ogando was able to carry over some of the magic he showed during the 2010 season when he was in the bullpen.  It appeared the Jon Daniels was going to catch lightening in a bottle twice if Ogando could prove to be an effective starter.  For the season he had a record of 13-8 with a 3.51 over 31 games (29 starts)/169 innings pitched.  Also that season he managed to pitch a complete game shutout.

Video:  05/23/11 Ogando’s gem against the Chicago White Sox

Alexi Ogando goes the distance for the Rangers, fanning six en route to the shutout win

After two seasons the Rangers thought they really had something with Ogando, but in my opinion he always looked a bit awkward in the starting role.  Maybe it was his delivery or just the way his thin lanky body hurled the ball.  Injuries were always a concern of mine, but he managed to do very well during the 2011 and looked to be an effective starter. In 2012 Ogando returned to the bullpen and the Rangers gave Neftali Feliz a chance to be in the starting rotation.  Ogando appeared to be on his way to another great season near the half way point with a 3.27 ERA over 58 games/66 innings.  In June the Rangers gave him a chance to start against the Giants in San Francisco.

He spent about a month on the disabled list after that leg injury and ended back up in the bullpen after his return.  After his return from the disabled list he had a 4.63 ERA (16 ER/31.1 IP) to finish the season.  He allowed back-to-back home runs to the New York Yankees, which was the first time he had done that in a relief appearance.  For the season he was 3 for 6 in save opportunities.

The 2013 season Ogando was started off the season again as a starting pitcher.  He did pitch well enough in 2011 and the first half of 2012 to earn that opportunity, but it going back and forth might not have been the best for him or the Rangers.  Ogando undoubtedly earned his spot in the rotation after his hard work during spring training.  He finished the Cactus league with a record 2-1 with a 3.55 ERA (10 ER/25.1 innings pitched).  He held opponents to a batting average of .213 and posted the second lowest qualifying ERA and the 7th most innings pitched.

Video: 4/3/13 Ogando’s 10 strikeouts
Alexi Ogando pitches 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Astros, striking out 10 for the first time in his career

Ogando started off the 2013 season pitching very well again, but by mid-May he started to show signed that he was injured, which he eventually reviewed to then manager Ron Washington.

Ron Washington had a meeting with Ogando and here is what he had to say to Evan Grant about him hiding his injury.

"“He finally told me that when we were talking and I said ‘You can’t do that.’ He’s got a different workload this year. When you are a reliever and you only have to pitch an inning or so, you can pitch through some soreness, but when you are a starter, it’s a different situation. You can make it worse. It’s something that comes with experience. Now that he has the experience of going through this and knowing the situation, hopefully it won’t happen again. Thank God it wasn’t more serious.” (Bleacher Report- Andrew Martin)"

Luckily it wasn’t too serious and he didn’t require any surgery and returned to make a spot start on June 5.  After that start he started feeling soreness in his arm again.  The same arm that put him on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis

"“That debate will continue to rage on,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “We view Alexi as a championship pitcher and we need to put him in the best position and keep him healthy. We’ll evaluate it from every angle. Right now, we view him as one of the five starting pitchers.” (Star-Telegram)"

He finished the season with a record of 7-4 and a 3.11 ERA over 23 games (18 starts)/ 104.1 innings pitched.  Overall it was a good season, but the signs of injuries started to appear and the questions about him being bounced back and forth from relief pitcher to starter started to be questioned. The 2014 season wasn’t any different than the previous seasons.  Prior to spring training Ogando told Ron Washington that he wanted to be a starting pitcher, Ron said if he was going to be a starting pitch he was going to have to earn it.  He tired during spring training, but he looked like the same pitcher everyone saw during the second half of the 2012 season.

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Eventually he was placed in the bullpen where he basically struggled all season. During spring training Ogando suffered a groin injury, which might have been part of the season he didn’t win a spot in the starting rotation. He pitched in 6 games (4 starts) with a record of 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA during spring training.  The Rangers hoped moving him back to the bullpen would allow him to return to the same amazing reliever they saw back during his 2011 season.  But, he wasn’t ever able to regain the same magic he had that season.  He suffered another minor injury in May, which luckily wasn’t severe.

By the start of June Ogando was yet again injured, this time with  elbow inflammation and was shut down for the remainder of the season.  Again, luckily he didn’t require Tommy John surgery.

Ogando started off as one of the Texas Ranger’s best relievers.  There is no doubt the he showed signs of being a good starting pitcher, but he might have been better off as a reliever.  Overall, it seems pulling him in and out of the bullpen might have done more harm than good to his arm.  Maybe it was partially on him for not following the workout routine as a starter and but not telling the club when he was starting to get sore to allow them to rest before he was injured.  Sadly it appears that the Rangers didn’t want to keep him another season because of his growing risk to injury.  Also, since he hasn’t had Tommy John surgery in the past might be an indicator that he’s just one bad outing from an injury that sidelines him a season or more.

Hopefully that won’t be the case and he’ll sign with another team soon.  He has been a great pitcher in the past and could still be able to be an amazing pitcher in the bullpen.  But, reports still say that he wants to be a starting pitcher for which ever team signs him.  Maybe which ever team picks him up will convince him that he is best in the bullpen and he’s able to stay healthy there.

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