One final historical context-laced point to digest: If C.J. Wilson -- who has struggled in each of his last two starts, but is arguably still the most valuable pitcher on the team right now -- were to maintain his current innings and performance pace over the regular season's final four months, his full-season win value would be on the scale of 5.8 wins, or the fourth-most valuable pitcher season in Rangers franchise history:
● Major league sources told Houston's FOX television affiliate on Tuesday that team president Nolan Ryan inquired about Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt; however; Rangers team officials unequivocally state that the team isn't going to get involved, with general manager Jon Daniels himself stating that acquiring a starting pitcher is "not a high priority" (Mark Berman, MyFoxHouston.com; T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
[It strikes me that there's a nice confluence of posturing and rumor-overplaying here; that Ryan is allegedly sniffing around doesn't mean very much in isolation, since I would imagine that any and all contending teams are doing the exact same thing, and that the Rangers are denying involvement doesn't really mean anything, since it doesn't behoove them one way or the other to express outward interest in Oswalt at this stage. There's a match here between Texas and Oswalt that is likely to be derailed by financial constraints and whatever exorbitant demands Drayton McLane would require to be met before he would green-light a deal sending his ace to his intrastate rival.
Three additional considerations: (a) the American League is a tougher league to pitch in than the National League, not only because of the presence of the designated hitter but also because of the heightened offensive talent levels, and this must be accounted for when projecting what Oswalt could do in Texas; (b) Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is a more hitter-friendly environment for left-handed hitters than Minute Maid Park, which I imagine could work to the detriment of his long below-average homer rates, and (c) Oswalt, given a few more solid years, will have a borderline Hall of Fame case, and talent of that caliber follows a different aging curve than the run-of-the-mill pitcher. Just some things to keep in mind.]
● The Rangers' bullpen is currently on a 531-inning pace, which is the highest such mark in the American League, and by far has the highest average leverage index of any bullpen in baseball (1.41 pLI); both Dustin Nippert (468 pitches, 24.2 innings) and Neftali Feliz (368 pitches, 24.1 innings) rank among the 10 most prolific relievers in the American League in terms of pitches thrown to date; Chris Ray, Darren O'Day, Frank Francisco, Darren Oliver and Feliz are all on pace to log at least 75 relief appearances this season, representing potential career highs for all five hurlers (various websites)
[Yeah, it's obviously not good, and may portend an ill-timed drop in performance as we move into the sweltering summer months. Don't know whether there's any sort of direct link between a higher leverage index and increased effort where the bullpen is concerned, since relievers generally enter the game throwing at max effort anyway, but it's something I'm inclined to keep an eye on. And while there are relievers who will finish with more innings pitched than those in that aforementioned five-pitcher group, understand that warming a pitcher up to enter a game also saps energy, even if not to the extent that pitching to live batters does.
One would think that this might be a good time to game the disabled-list system and use it to find a couple of two-week respites for its most overworked pitchers at the very first hint of "tired arm" or residual soreness, but the downside of taking such a course of action is, of course, that you end up relying upon an unproven arm (e.g. Pedro Strop, Alexi Ogando, Tanner Scheppers or Zach Phillips) and disrupting the structured roles in the bullpen, as well as possibly bringing scrutiny down upon yourself if other teams acquire the notion that you're shelving players who aren't really "hurt." I don't know how the Rangers will alleviate this problem, but the bullpen will be toasted by August if they don't find a way.]
● By the measure of sOPS+, Texas is receiving above-average offensive production at every position except for three: catcher (61 sOPS+), center field (54 sOPS+) and first base (38 sOPS+); furthermore; the No. 7-8 spots in the Rangers' lineup are collectively hitting .197/.275/.249 (Baseball-Reference.com)
[Of the Justin Smoak situation, general manager Jon Daniels writes: "[Smoak's] going to get some time to bounce back. His at-bats, particularly from the left side, are better than his batting average suggests. He's hit the ball hard, has shown an ability to control the strike zone, and is handling the experience well. Obviously we need more production from [first base] than we've gotten, but at this point, we feel the best chance to get that is to let Justin keep grinding up here." The appropriate response, I think, but what happens in the event that Smoak's poor luck continues to get into his head and adversely affects his approach?]