Here's another Turntable.fm jam that, frankly, I'm not quite sure what to think of:
● The big story of last night was another disastrous start for Alexi Ogando, who lasted just 2.2 innings against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night and -- lest anyone attempt to argue that he deserved to remain in the game because he had allowed only three earned runs up to that point -- looked absolutely terrible in the process:
But the bigger issue is getting Ogando straightened out. He has identified the problem -- falling off to the left during his delivery -- but can't fix it.
"I was very sharp at the beginning of the season, but I feel in these last outings I've lost the strike zone," Ogando said. "My body, I feel that I'm good. My arm doesn't feel how I like."
For the moment, at least, Ogando is still set to make his next scheduled start next Monday at Tampa Bay ... yeah, the same team that just clubbed him over the head last night. Since the loss of command seems to be ascribable to his current inability to repeat his mechanics, it seems pretty fair to assume that fatigue is playing a role in his present downfall -- and that is a huge, huge problem, albeit one that I think a lot of us were able to see coming fairly early on. He pitched at a superhuman level for a good while, but that time has passed, and now the Rangers are charged with determining some way to revitalize him before it's too late.
Derek Holland's Jekkyl-and-Hyde act has worn pretty thin with some people, but you could construct a pretty compelling case for him being the Rangers' second-best start at the moment. I'll leave you to ponder whether that's intended as a compliment towards Holland, or as an indictment of his struggling rotation counterparts ... or both.
● Adrian Beltre will be activated before tonight's game and inserted into the starting lineup. Andres Blanco will also be activated. Beltre said Wednesday that he "feels fine," but ESPN.com's Buster Olney indicated a couple of days ago that there is no chance of Beltre's hamstring being 100 percent healed before season's end, and that it's going to be a matter of injury management the rest of the way. As such, Beltre will be getting some work at DH the rest of the way, with Michael Young presumably filling in for him on those occasions when Beltre needs a breather.
● T.R. Sullivan talks about some of the possible implications of yesterday's deals on the Rangers' plans for their post-season roster:
The Rangers will likely go with an 11-man pitching staff in the playoffs, because they will need only four starting pitchers. That means one of the starters will likely join the bullpen. Derek Holland pitched out of the bullpen during the playoffs last season.
That means the Rangers would be choosing six relievers out of a group of 10 that consists of closer Neftali Feliz, right-handers Koji Uehara, Mike Adams, Mark Lowe and Yoshinori Tateyama, left-handers Darren Oliver and Gonzalez, long relievers Scott Feldman and Mark Hamburger, and O'Day.
An 11-man pitching staff would mean 14 position players. Right now, the Rangers have at least 16 position players eligible for postseason. They will likely take only one utility infielder: either Andres Blanco or Omar Quintanilla. The other big decision will likely be if they take a third catcher or an extra outfielder.
If you choose to look at this from the viewpoint of "well, whichever starter loses out will end up as part of the 11-man pitching staff," then your absolute bullpen locks are Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams, and Darren Oliver. Koji Uehara is having a terrible go of it right now (four home runs in 10.2 innings is absolutely horrendous), but one would think that his homer rate will stabilize, and that he'll rediscover something of a groove before season's end. Mark Lowe has been an asset out of the bullpen this season ... but then, so has Yoshinori Tateyama, who has been absolute murder on right-handed hitters but quite vulnerable against left-handed hitters.
That right there would give you seven relievers -- but in the event that one of Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando, Scott Feldman, or Mark Hamburger nailed down that long relief spot designated for the No. 5 starter, you'd be left with only one southpaw in the bullpen. And if it's Derek Holland or Matt Harrison who ends up going to the bullpen, you have to ask the question of whether you feel comfortable with them functioning as the long man and second left-hander.
If you held a gun to my head right now and asked me to pick what I believe would be the optimal post-season bullpen, I'd probably go with Feldman/Gonzalez/Oliver/Tateyama/Uehara/Adams/Feliz -- but I'm not ultra-confident that things will end up playing out in that way, and I think you could make a good case going either way between Tateyama and Lowe. It's also possible that Gonzalez bombs here, thereby rendering the Rangers' decision a bit easier.
● The Rangers are happy about Matt Treanor's return. Mark Hamburger is the hero that the Rangers deserve, but not the one that they need right now. Matt Harrison is still set to start on Sunday at Boston. Nelson Cruz stretched and rode a stationary bike on Wednesday. Uehara's $4 million vesting option for 2012 vested last night. The Rangers are apparently expected to call up two players from Round Rock today. Tuesday's Rangers-Rays game was the highest-rated game on FSNSW all season, pulling in a robust 7.0 and ranking as the fourth-most viewed game on FSNSW of all time.