Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a 10-part series over the next two weeks that will focus on questions the Texas Rangers must answer this offseason. These questions are in no particular order.
Today’s question: Should the Rangers keep Alexi Ogando in the starting rotation or move him back to the bullpen?
Even years mean Alexi Ogando will be a reliever. Odd years mean he'll be a starter.
The next time the Rangers play a game will be in 2014, which means Ogando will return to the bullpen. Right? Oh, not so fast.
Yes, the the record says that Ogando worked as a reliever in 2010 and was an emergency switch to the rotation -- where he pitched well -- in 2011. He was back in the bullpen in 2012, only to go back to the rotation this season. It feels like a rally in tennis. Will it ever end?
At this point, the Rangers aren't saying -- at least publicly.
Ogando wants to start. The Rangers enter the offseason in need of a starting pitcher, knowing that right now they have Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez and hopefully a healthy Matt Harrison as four of their five starting pitchers. If the Rangers don't sign another starter, Ogando will begin next spring training in the rotation.
But consider that a pretty big "if."
"A lot of if depends on what we do this winter," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said at his postmortem press conference last week. "But I'm sure he'll come into camp ready to get stretched out to be a starter. We'll make a decision from there. A lot can change between now and Feb. 15. It depends on the needs of the club."
The Rangers should follow their own even-odd script and use Ogando out of the bullpen in 2014. And it's not so much based on the numbers. There it's pretty close to a wash, with a slight edge to using him as a reliever.
Ogando is 19-12 with a 3.40 ERA as a starter. He's 7-1 with a 2.46 ERA as a reliever. Opponents have hit .233 against him as a starter and .207 against him as a reliever.
No, this comes down to one thing -- injuries. Ogando had three stints on the disabled list in 2013, twice for shoulder inflammation and once for biceps tendinitis. Ogando threw 104 1/3 innings this season. Perez came up to the majors for good on June 22 and logged 124 1/3 innings. Darvish and Holland both went over 200 innings.
Aside from putting up quality numbers -- which Ogando has done in his career -- starters need to eat up innings. Ogando, based on his track record so far, can't get be counted on to do that. It would be a shock if he ever approached 200 innings in a season.
It's an even year. Ogando for the bullpen in 2014.