Derek Holland's injury alters bullpen

June, 7, 2012
6/07/12
12:34
PM CT
The ripple effects of Derek Holland's disabled-list stint extend to the bullpen now that the club has decided to move Alexi Ogando into the starting rotation.

PODCAST
Ben and Skin react to the news that Rangers lefty Derek Holland is being placed on the DL and that Josh Hamilton may be causing a rift in the clubhouse.

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I'm not sure the Rangers really had much choice here. They want Roy Oswalt fully ready to go before he joins the rotation and that means another few starts in the minors (including today in Omaha for Triple-A Round Rock). They don't want to rush a Double-A starter (see: Barret Loux or Justin Grimm) to the majors before he's ready, though it could come to that if the injury bug keeps biting.

So at this point, the Rangers are plugging the hole vacated by Holland with Ogando. So that means two pitchers who were in the bullpen to start the season -- Scott Feldman and Ogando -- are now in the rotation. Oswalt will join the rotation, at this point around June 20. He would likely take Feldman's spot, but we'll see if Holland's injury alters anything there.

Tanner Scheppers joins a bullpen that looks a little different without Ogando, who is one of the most versatile relievers in the game. Ogando has struggled recently, giving up a run in five of his final seven appearances in May. He does have a 0.00 ERA in three June outings, but has allowed inherited runners to score. The guy who was automatic for the ALDS and ALCS last year hasn't really shown up this season. Part of that is that his secondary stuff hasn't been quite as sharp, so hitters have been able to key on his fastball. And even though it can come at them at 98 mph, if big league hitters know it's coming, they can make adjustments and hit it. Starting will force Ogando to rely more on his secondary stuff, and we'll see if it improves.

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With Alexi Ogando in the rotation, who should be the Rangers' seventh-inning setup man?

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Scheppers can go multiple innings, but the first time he goes out will be his big league debut, so manager Ron Washington may ease him in. Koji Uehara has pitched well this season and will now pitch in tighter, more important spots as the primary seventh-inning setup man since Ogando is in the rotation. Uehara has a 1.33 ERA in 20 1/3 innings, and since allowing runs in back-to-back outings in April, the right-hander has given up one run in his last 16 1/3 innings. That has earned him the confidence of the skipper.

"[Uehara] will get a chance to set up Mike Adams," Washington said. "He's been pitching extremely well. He's got an opportunity to step it up, and he can be seventh or eighth inning, depends on availability of Mike Adams. [Uehara] has done a great job. When Mike Adams and Ogando were available, Ogando was first. Now Ogando is not there, so [Uehara] has a chance to step up."

Washington still has Mike Adams as his primary eighth-inning guy, along with closer Joe Nathan. Robbie Ross has shown some versatility and can pitch in various spots, too. Mark Lowe can also help bridge the gap if needed.

But Holland's injury means the bullpen will have a different look in the middle innings and even later. That's one thing to watch going forward, to see how those pitchers react to different roles -- and whether it becomes an area of need at the trade deadline.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Alex Rios
BA HR RBI R
.333 1 10 8
OTHER LEADERS
HRP. Fielder 2
RBIA. Rios 10
RE. Andrus 11
OPSS. Choo .895
WM. Perez 3
ERAY. Darvish 0.82
SOY. Darvish 23