With Nomar Mazara set to make his rehab starts, the Texas Rangers will have to decide which player becomes the odd-man out of the lineup.
Nomar Mazara is set to start his rehab stint with the Round Rock Express this weekend meaning his return from a July 20th thumb sprain is imminent. With expectations that he’ll return in the next week or so, room will have to be made for him on the active roster. Now while clearing a spot on the roster for him won’t be that difficult, finding a spot in the lineup is another question.
Clearing the Roster
Drew Robinson seems the likely candidate to get optioned back to the minors to clear a spot for Mazara. He was the most recent call-up getting promoted to replace Delino DeShields who hit the 7-day concussion DL. Now Delino is eligible to come off the DL this weekend so Robinson may be optioned to clear a spot for him. So if Robinson is already optioned, it likely becomes a pitcher who gets optioned to clear a spot for Mazara. Texas currently is carrying 13 pitchers so they can afford to send one down.
Sorting Out the Lineup
The roster spot wasn’t the tough part however. Sorting out the lineup is the hard part. When Mazara returns, one would assume the Rangers would have 6 left handed bats that would be a part of the starting lineup. Gallo, Odor, Guzman, Calhoun, Choo and Mazara all make cases to be regular starters. However even if you wanted to keep all these players in the lineup, fitting them in the field is another story. With Guzman locked in to playing first and Odor locked in at second, two of the six are already set. One would assume that Choo would continue as the Designated Hitter for the Rangers mostly which means you have three more hitters who would have to fill outfield positions.
Delino Loses Out in Center Again
If Texas wanted the play Calhoun, Gallo and Mazara in the outfield they could but it wouldn’t be the most effective defensive combination. Calhoun is an average left fielder at best, Gallo is inexperienced in center and Mazara is only a slightly above average right fielder. This scenario would mean that Delino DeShields would lose his starting job in center field again. While at the plate, this isn’t much of a loss, DeShields is an elite defensive center fielder and still a promising 25-year old.
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Calhoun Loses Playing Time or Gets Optioned
If Calhoun loses playing time, it wouldn’t be ideal but it would be manageable. The young slugger was called up when Nomar Mazara hit the DL and has been fairly impressive in his time in the majors. In 2018, Calhoun is hitting .267 with a .703 OPS. Obviously he isn’t lighting the world on fire but at only 23, Calhoun is considered a Top 3 prospect in the Rangers organization. Texas could just split time for Calhoun between Gallo, Mazara and Choo. Gallo could be the everyday left fielder, Mazara in right and Choo as the DH with Calhoun filling in time to time. However, how would you pick and choose when Calhoun plays since they are all lefties so the matchup game is out the window.
Now Texas could option Calhoun back to Triple-A but this just seems like a move destined for problems. Calhoun already voiced his displeasure at the beginning of the season with starting in Triple-A when he felt he was ready for the big leagues. The Rangers then kept him down until the end of July before promoting him for the first time this year. I can’t imagine Willie would be thrilled being demoted just a few weeks later especially after performing well in his time here. The Rangers would be hard pressed to send Willie Calhoun back to the minors.
Ronald Guzman Goes Back to Triple-A; Gallo Goes Back to First
Stick with me here because I know this is probably the most outlandish of all. Guzman has impressed the organization and fans alike since being promoted this year. The big first baseman has been a defensive wizard producing a few highlight plays. At the plate, he’s showed promise but also room for improvement. Through 86 games, Guzman has hit .238 and produced a .713 OPS. If Texas would be willing to let Guzman go back down for the remainder of the season, it would allow him a chance to work on his hitting while also continuing the play everyday.
Now this would obviously mean someone would have to play first in his absence and I think moving Joey Gallo back to first makes the most sense. With plenty of experience at the position, it wouldn’t be a difficult transition back. Additionally Profar could step in from time to time to give Gallo a day off especially against left handed pitchers.
The Rangers have a bit of a good problem as all these guys are playing well enough to be in the starting lineup. However, because they are all left handed hitters, it’s hard to work out a lineup where they can all play effectively. This problem isn’t one that they’re facing just this season however. With all these players under contract for a couple more years, the Rangers will have to figure out how to balance the players for the foreseeable future.