After another unimpressive outing, Texas Rangers starting pitcher Ross Detwiler now sports an ERA of 7.22. He has pitched past the sixth inning only once in his six starts this season, which includes Saturday’s four inning performance, an outing where he allowed five runs to the Tampa Bay Rays. Detwiler is the weak link in the Rangers’ rotation, leaving fans to wonder if it is time for the Rangers to bring their top pitching prospect, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez to the majors.
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The 23rd pick in the 2013 draft, Gonzalez has had a meteoric rise through the minor leagues. During spring training, the 23-year-old right-hander was squarely in the mix for a spot in the rotation but he was sent to AAA Round Rock to continue his development.
However, it might be time for the Rangers to give Gonzalez a taste of the major leagues. Three of the current members of the Ranger’s rotation have an ERA below 4.0 (Nick Martinez, Colby Lewis, Wandy Rodriguez), which is a pleasant surprise considering the rotation is missing its three best pitchers (Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez).
The question is whether Gonzalez is ready for a rotation spot. When compared to other Rangers’ pitchers, Gonzalez has far fewer minor league innings making one wonder whether Chi Chi is ready for the jump.
Gonzalez has thrown 213.1 innings in his minor league career amassing a 3.16 ERA. In comparison, Derek Holland threw 316.2 innings, Martin Perez pitched 583.2 and Nick Martinez had 336.2. He has only six games and 32 innings at the AAA level, making it easy to wonder if it would be wise to put such a young and inexperienced pitcher into the major league rotation so soon?
The answer is yes. Detwiler simply can’t remain in the rotation. It is difficult to imagine that Gonzalez could perform any worse than the struggling lefty. The timing might be perfect for Gonzalez to get his first taste of major league ball. Holland is set to resume throwing in two weeks and could return sometime near the All-Star break. Perez could also return to the rotation in the middle of the season.
The circumstances are right for Gonzalez to make his debut. If he is successful, the Ranger rotation will be solidified until reinforcements arrive. If he struggles, he will receive two months worth of big league experience to take with him back to AAA Round Rock.
With Nick Tepesch on the 60-day disabled list, Gonzalez seems to be the Texas Rangers only option if they wish to replace Detwiler. Gonzalez has the natural talent to be an effective pitcher in the big leagues. The question is whether or not he is mentally ready for the task.
It is worth noting that Gonzalez is on the same pitching schedule as Detwiler making any call-up an easy transition. With the Rangers floundering near last place, there’s no better time than now to find out if Gonzalez ready for the big leagues.