Texas Rangers: The Silver Lining of Injuries
By Jason Burke
The Texas Rangers have started the season 2-3 after dropping Friday’s game against an improved Astros squad, but it was the losses of Derek Holland, Ryan Rua and Shin-Soo Choo that will have lingering effects. According to Evan Grant, Holland will miss at least one month, while Choo is listed as day-to-day and Rua has no timetable after suffering a sprained ankle. Obviously, after last season none of this is good news for the Rangers but let’s try to stay positive, as hard as that may be.
Pitching is a definite concern for the Texas Rangers in 2015, and after the losses of Holland and Yu Darvish, those worries haven’t gotten any better. However, one player that turned some heads this spring was Alex Gonzalez, known to most by his nickname “Chi Chi.” Gonzalez is in Triple-A Round Rock to start the season, having never pitched above Double A. Because of his lack of experience, he will likely have to wait for his call to the majors until later in the season, but fans will be eagerly anticipating the debut of the 23-year old.
Two other options for the Rangers are the newly acquired 36-year old lefty, Wandy Rodriguez, and offseason trade acquisition Anthony Ranaudo. It could be as simple as Rodriguez is a lefty, Holland is a lefty, so let’s replace one with the other. I doubt that it will be that simple, but Rodriguez is the smart move for the Texas Rangers in this situation if for no other reason than his arm is older and has more mileage. To get something out of him at the big league level, it would be wise to promote him earlier in the year. Ranaudo, on the other hand, doesn’t even reach arbitration until 2018, so giving him a little extra time in the minors could benefit the team long term. Ranaudo had some brief major league experience in Boston, going 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA over 39 1/3 innings.
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While Wandy Rodriguez is set to pitch for Round Rock on Saturday, Ranaudo started Thursday night’s opener, going five scoreless innings. allowing four hits and striking out six.
So what does this all lead up to? The silver lining. If everyone was healthy last season, Rougned Odor would likely still be in the minor leagues. While he isn’t lighting it up (yet) this season, he has given the team some long-term options with their super (and oft-injured) prospect Jurickson Profar. Perhaps this season we get a similar showing from a pitcher or two.
I guess what I’m most optimistic of, is not this season, but perhaps there will be a Wally Pipp-type story that comes from all of these injuries. As the story goes, Pipp was the Yankees starting first baseman in 1925 and had been since 1915. On June 2, 1925, Pipp came to the ballpark with a headache and got the day off. His replacement that day was none other than Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, who went on to set the streak for most consecutive games played (2,130) until Cal Ripken Jr. broke that record in 1995. Ripken went on to play in 2,632 consecutive games.
This season is far from over, and fans certainly shouldn’t be giving up yet, but there is a definite storyline to keep an eye out for. What will the replacements of the injured players do with their opportunity at the next level? Round Rock may be the place to go to do some scouting of your own in this season.