Will injuries mean rested staff in playoffs?
You'd think manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels would feel like Kranz. But if they do, both are doing an excellent job of hiding it. Washington said he'll do what he always does: Play the games with the squad he has and make no excuses. Daniels is choosing to look at the rash of injuries that has enveloped his pitching staff -- especially the starters -- as a positive for his staff later this season.
"If all these injuries are as they appear and all these guys do get back, you could argue that last year we had the same five guys in the rotation all season long and you could argue there may have been some fatigue factored in," Daniels said. "You've got six real quality pitchers that we're going to really count on that we'll have built in breathing room, so to speak. It should make them fresher in the second half."
Colby Lewis, the latest injury victim, agrees with Daniels. He's logged more than 200 innings the past two seasons and has also pitched 50 innings in the postseason with a 4-1 record and a 2.34 ERA. But Derek Holland also threw a career-high 198 innings in 2011, and he's on the DL with a stomach ailment/sore shoulder. He has his first rehab start Wednesday in Round Rock. Alexi Ogando, who moved from the bullpen to the rotation and then strained his groin, says he feels better and should throw a bullpen next week. Neftali Feliz is on the 60-day DL and isn't eligible to return until July 18. Reliever Koji Uehara has a strained lat muscle and could throw a bullpen in a week.
"You want to stay healthy the whole year, obviously," Lewis said. "But it can be good if everyone gets back and is rested and ready to go."
How does that Roy Oswalt signing look now? The club picked him up as insurance after Neftali Feliz started the injury parade back on May 21. They are cashing in big-time on that now. He's in the rotation and will stay there for the long haul, it appears. The staff around him is getting younger right now, too. The club had to call up 23-year-old Justin Grimm, who had a great debut and then struggled in his second start Monday. Martin Perez, who is 21, takes Lewis' place on the roster. If he's not needed in the bullpen, my bet is he starts Saturday.
But the fact that Oswalt is in the rotation helps calm Washington's fears. What if you didn't have him?
“We’d be scrambling again," Washington said. "We’ve got a veteran, a guy that knows how to win. We’ve got a guy that’s not fazed by the situation. We’ve got a guy that knows how to pitch. I think Jon and Nolan (Ryan) did a great job of piecing this thing together until we can get healthy again. We’re certainly hoping that Oswalt can be one of those pieces to hold things together. We’ll be fine.”
The injuries do give young pitchers a chance to get a taste of the majors, and it means the injured pitchers get a forced break. The key is the Rangers hanging around and staying afloat while the pitching staff is out. So far, they've done that. It must continue in the coming weeks.
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