Some quick bullet points as we wait for Roy Oswalt vs. Chris Sale tonight, and contemplate Oswalt's chances of keeping pace with the White Sox lefty who's already a legitimate Cy Young contender at the ripe old age of 23:
● Derek Holland started strong during last night's Triple-A Round Rock rehab start, finished poorly (three homers allowed in the sixth inning), and emphasized that everything felt good coming out of his arm:
"I felt like everything was good. I just let a couple pitches get away. I threw a lot of quality pitches. The only thing that really hurt me was a couple pitches in the sixth inning. Everything else was still good. The location was there, they just started swinging. ... I'm not too worried about it. If anything, I think they were sitting on my fastball. I'm not sure, but they might have known it was my last inning. They came out swinging at the fastball."
It's pretty safe to assume that the Rangers looked at Holland's effort from a more process-oriented perspective and were less concerned with the superficial ugliness of the stats (six innings, five runs) than they were with the mechanics and his velocity/movement and his command of the strike zone. With that said, though, you still wouldn't think that he'd be good for much more than 85-90 pitches if he were to return to the major league rotation this coming Saturday, and the wind kind of seems to be blowing in the direction of one of Justin Grimm or Martin Perez getting that extra spot start on Friday after all, with Yu Darvish then getting a full five days of rest and going on Saturday, and Holland staying down in Round Rock for one more rehab start so that he can continue building his arm strength/endurance.
● FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi got everyone all hot and bothered when he posted these two tweets in quick succession earlier this afternoon:
Yeah, it's due diligence on both sides of the coin and all, and, no, I don't think this is evidentiary of a deal actually being in the works or anything of that sort. I do, however, expect that there will continue to be some mutual interest between both teams on a Greinke-to-Texas deal, regardless of whatever the Rangers might publicly declare about not "expecting" to make any major moves; they've got rotation reinforcements on the way, but it may be that they're somewhat lacking in confidence as far as both Colby Lewis and Roy Oswalt holding up all the way through September/October, or that they're still tentative about Derek Holland's situation, or something else along those lines.
In a similar vein, this could end up being a case where the Rangers see some practicality in going down the rent-an-ace path -- assuming, of course, that the Rangers viewed Greinke as a clear and definable playoff rotation upgrade over two of Darvish/Harrison/Oswalt/Holland/Lewis, and assuming that the organization believes the cost in talent will be justified by the anticipated pitching upgrade.
● All-Star selection Matt Harrison -- it's still difficult for me to reconcile "All-Star" and "Matt Harrison" given those first few rough major league seasons, and the fact that he still doesn't strike all that many guys out -- picked up the American League Pitcher of the Month award yesterday after posting a microscopic 1.29 ERA over six starts and 42 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio on the month (24-to-10) wasn't especially impressive on its surface, but he kept the walks/hits off the board and hasn't allowed a home run since June 3rd, and when your opponents' on-base percentage for the month is .276, and when your strand rate for the month is a whopping 89.5 percent, you've got a confluence of factors that is going to produce an impressive, albeit unsustainably, low ERA.
In any event, Harrison now boasts a 140 ERA+ on the season, and if we look at the historical record, we find that the list of Rangers starting pitchers who managed to sustain even a 135 ERA+ over a full, qualifying major league season is quite miniscule:
If, if he manages to pull this off, Harrison would be only the second Rangers starting pitcher to post a full-season ERA+ north of 135 since Ken Hill in 1996, and would have the lowest strikeout/walk/home runs per nine innings ratios of any individual in this club since Rick Honeycutt in 1983, when he struck out fewer than three batters per nine innings but still won the American League ERA title.