My thoughts on the return of Colby Lewis


The Texas Rangers announced today that they had a one-year deal with right-handed pitcher Colby Lewis for $4 million.  During spring training last year Lewis looked very rusty, his command was lacking and so was his velocity.  The Rangers needed a fifth starter and prior to spring training it appeared the Lewis could be in the starting rotation by Opening day.

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He finished spring training with an awful 8.00 ERA over 4 starts/9.0 innings pitched allowing opponents to hit .333 with 2 home runs and 8 earned runs.  That was reason enough to send Colby Lewis down to the minors for a few rehab assignments with the Frisco Rough Riders.

After one of his outings with the Rough Riders minor-league writer Scott Lucas has this to say about his outing on April 6th.

"“Lewis was decent early despite allowing two runs in the first on an opening blooped triple, catcher’s error and groundout. He maintained a one-hitter into the 5th, when three consecutive hits, an HBP and walk plated two more and extended his pitch count to a bloated 98. He walked three, struck out two and allowed four hits in those five innings.Lewis’s fastball topped at 89 MPH and typically ran 87-88. As usual, he mixed in a variety pack of secondaries. The speed changes kept opposing hitters unbalanced and induced several awkward misses. In the 4th and 5th, when his command lost precision, hitters fouled off more balls and made better contact. As to whether he’s ready for Arlington, well… maybe? He looked adequate for the most part and has to be an improvement on Joe Saunders. But, I wouldn’t expect too much. The 2010-2012 Lewis is gone.” (Scott Lucas)"

It’s hard to argue against the when you look at the first half of the season for Colby Lewis.   He had a record of 6-6 with a 6.54 ERA over 16 starts/84.0 innings (average 5.25 innings per game).  He went 13 games without a quality start to start his season and struggled to pitch deeper than 6 or more innings until about the All-star break.

Video: 04/14/14 Lewis’ first start since 2012
Colby Lewis throws 5 1/3 frames in his first regular-season Major League start since 2012

Shortly after the All-star break he was beat up bad by the Los Angeles Angels.  During that game he gave up 13 runs (11 earned) over a short 2.1 innings.  The Angels started off that game hot with 4 hits in a row in the first inning and then 7 in a row reached safely in the second inning.  After giving up a 3-run home run to Mike Trout in the 3 inning Ron Washington had seen enough and some probably wondered if that was the last of Colby Lewis.  I wondered if he had hurt something which was causing control and velocity issues.

But, Lewis wasn’t injured and he seemed more determined than ever after his bad outing against the Angels.

Colby Lewis contributed his ability to bounce back and pitch deeper in games due to his between starts activities.  He had finally learned how to manage his new hip and how to pitch with it.  And by the time the second half the season it was right.  He completely turned around his season and managed to be one of the Rangers best starters.  Granted his record didn’t reflect it, but that stat was a bit flawed this season with the Rangers because hitting was horrible, thus he had low run-support.

For the second half of the season he had a 3.86 ERA with a record of 4-8 over 13 starts/86.1 innings.  Along with a much improved ERA he managed to pitch an average 6.62 innings per game and had 2 complete games ( 1 complete game shutout).

It’s easy to see that although Lewis wasn’t anything like the same pitcher he was in 2010 though 2012, he has been able to prove his is able to get most of it back.  Well enough where should be the number 4 or 5 starter for the Texas Rangers next season.  He’s played all season last year and never once ended up on the disabled list.  He managed to field very well and almost looked like he never even had hip surgery.

Video: 08/05/14 Lewis’ six-hit shutout
Colby Lewis pitches a complete game, keeping the White Sox off the scoreboard while recording seven strikeouts in a 16-0 victory

The Rangers managed to get Colby Lewis for only $4 million, which I think is a great deal for both sides.  The deal does include incentives, which I think he’ll managed to achieve.  This was to me a must sign, because Lewis is still the Cobra and the Rangers needed a quality starter, which they now have.

Video: 12/04/14 Rangers retain righty Lewis
Rangers GM Jon Daniels and Colby Lewis discuss the right-hander agreeing to a one-year deal to stay with the team next season