Rangers’ Rotation Thins Out With Holland Injury

It’s been a rough few weeks for the Rangers. They got thumped by both the Mariners (21-8) and Athletics (12-1) within the last week and are just 21-22 since an eight-game winning streak in the middle of April. Texas has already lost Neftali Feliz for an extended period of time due to an elbow sprain and today they lost another young hurler, southpaw Derek Holland with left shoulder fatigue according to Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The 25-year-old Holland had already been battling a stomach virus that reportedly cost him 10-15 pounds and apparently also some giddy-up on his fastball*. He allowed 18 runs in 19.1 innings across the four starts immediately prior to this shoulder issue, contributing to the team’s skid. Scott Feldman — 7.01 ERA and 5.48 FIP in five starts and five relief appearances — is already in the rotation for Feliz, and now Holland’s injury forces Alexi Ogando into the starting staff per Jeff Fletcher of Bay Bridge Baseball. Relief prospect Tanner Scheppers will come up to fill out the bullpen.

* The PITCHf/x data actually doesn’t help up much in confirming this. The classifications have Holland throwing a four-seamer in past years but a sinker this year. None of our velocity charts are able to show a drop on a start-by-start basis on one nice, clean plot.

Ogando pitched well as a starter last season but he’s thrown no more than two innings and 39 pitches in an appearance this season, so stamina — at least in the short-term — is a concern. In the long-term, the Rangers are hurting for quality starting pitching depth with Feliz and Holland out. Prospects Martin Perez (4.36 FIP) and Neil Ramirez (5.00) haven’t pitched all that well Triple-A and journeymen Zach Jackson (5.11 FIP) and Greg Reynolds (5.41 FIP) don’t inspire much confidence.

All of a sudden, Roy Oswalt has become an extremely importance piece of Texas’ pitching puzzle. He was expected to make four Triple-A tune-up starts before rejoining the rotation and has just one under his belt so far, though the veteran right-hander will get the ball again tonight. Oswalt is still at least two weeks away, which means Ogando will have to hold down the fort until then. That puts a lot of pressure on an admittedly stellar bullpen, one that will now rely a little more on left-hander Robbie Ross (3.26 FIP) for multi-inning work.

Despite this recent hiccup, the Rangers remain an excellent team if not the best in the game. Their starting rotation has been compromised due to injury and the top reinforcement is a 34-year-old with two degenerative discs in his back and zero AL innings to his credit. Feldman and Ogando opened the season as arguably the best sixth and seventh starters in baseball, but right now they’re the numbers four and five. Oswalt’s arrival is now more important than anticipated, especially if Feliz’s elbow problem and/or Holland’s shoulder issue start to linger.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

14 Responses to “Rangers’ Rotation Thins Out With Holland Injury”

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  1. Jimmy Wrench says:

    the giddy-up lost on his fastball won’t show up over multiple games. as far as i am aware, it only happened in the last inning or two of his last start in which his fastball suddenly dropped down to 88 mph before getting pulled.

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    • rf says:

      His velo seemed to be peaking at 94 two and three starts ago instead of his usual 96. Not much, and may have affected his average velo even less. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but by eye it looked as if a small dip was there. He also looked ashen after getting pulled from his last start. What I’m unclear on is if the ‘should fatigue’ is simply due to the lost weight/virus, or if it’s something new; it seems the former would be somewhat less worrying than the latter.

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  2. Peter R says:

    Let me shed a tear…..

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  3. stan says:

    Can someone explain why Ogando didn’t go into the rotation instead of Feldman? I found that very curious. It was weird enough that Feliz went into the rotation and Ogando to the bullpen before the season but the Rangers continued insistence on keeping Ogando there despite his far greater value as a starter is curious. Before the season I could see that they had questions in the bullpen but those have been erased.

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    • Feldman is the long man/spot starter and was more stretched out for this sort of thing. Though Ogando is one of the most likely RP for the Rangers to pitch multiple innings, he still wasn’t pitching as many innings per outing as a long man.

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    • Juan Chapa says:

      Hind sight is 20/20. But they should’ve known, its easier
      to develop a reliever than a starter. If they’d kept Ogando
      as a spot starter long reliever, they would now be in better
      shape for Ogando to start. But, its very tempting to use
      him as a set-up, because he can come in and wing
      97 – 100+ MPH fastballs. So, he’s very affective against
      lefthanders and righthanded batters. Additionally, Ogando
      has been more effective than Feldman. What was the
      thinkng for using Feldman in lieu of Ogando as a
      spot starter – long reliever? Neil Ramirez has been pitching
      better than Perez. Hell, if the veeterans and prospects
      aren’t affective, use the prospects. At least you’ll
      give the veterans competition and an oppoprunity
      (which they might not get again) to the prospect.
      They need to know that they need to keep
      progressing for the day the parent team comes

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    • NatsFan73 says:

      This whole situation was a PRIME opportunity to use the old A-ball standby … tandem starters. Put Feliz and Ogando out there every fifth day as a set. One starts and goes twice through the order, the other comes in and finishes the game. Keeps the “starter” fresh longer and gets more innings out of the “reliever”.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        especially in the AL where you won’t have to worry about running out of quality pinch hitters later in the game. I like the idea of a tandem start.

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  4. John says:

    “The PITCHf/x data actually doesn’t help up much in confirming this.”

    Anyone watching Monday not can confirm this. By his last inning (6th), he was throwing 88. I’ve never seen Holland throw fastballs below 90 before.

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  5. Revenge of the Marinerds says:

    Yes! This is just the opening the Mariners needed. We are about to explode through the Rangers barn door and steal their eggs and shear the wool from their sheep and stuff! *fist*

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  6. Keystone Heavy says:

    Rangers just lost three straight series to the Marniers, Angels, and Athletics. This doesn not help.

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  7. Christopher says:

    Just because Mariners have just won 5 of 9 from these 3 top tiered teams(Rangers, White sox, Angels) in their ballparks does not mean they are going to the top…it will be fun to see what it does mean especially if their starting pitching comes around. Who would have thought that their hitting would be picking up?

    Back to Rangers…this is what makes BB so much fun

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  8. Beantown says:

    I thought the Rangers were supposed to be one of the overall best teams – actually, best organizations – in baseball, with surprising pitching depth. Aren’t they supposed to have enough talent to overcome something like this? Perhaps they aren’t building the dynasty over there that people were talking about during this past offseason. The Angels might just overtake them in the second half if Weaver gets right and Pujols, Trout, etc. settle in.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Their money, part of what makes them the best overally organization, made it so they could grab Oswalt, who will probably be at least serviceable. They have Jurickson Profar who I’d think along with some raw guys would be able to get most SP too.

      Their ML and MiL pitching and hitting is elite. They are in a large market. There isn’t another franchise that hits all of those.

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