The Texas Rangers started out the season with a stretch of great starting pitching. Starters won their first 10 decisions and were 13-4 at the end of April. Things began to slow down throughout the month of May and so did the Rangers as a whole. Good starting pitching is the quickest way to get your team back on track and that is finally starting to happen again.
Since the start of their series in San Francisco, the Rangers starters have allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven out of eight games and the only two losses came at the hand of Scott Feldman. Feldman turned in a decent start against the Giants on June 9th when he only allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk. Even though Feldman turned in a decent performance, it was not enough to pick up a victory that day as the Rangers made three errors in the field and the offense could only manage five hits. The one bad start during this stretch did come from Feldman on Thursday when he allowed six runs with four of them earned against the Diamondbacks in the Rangers' 11-3 loss.
Before this stretch of victories began, Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison were both starting to throw the ball well and have gotten even better over the past week. Harrison has not allowed a run in his last 16 1/3 innings and Lewis only allowed four hits in a complete game victory against the Diamondbacks. Harrison and Lewis have not been the only ones getting the job done though as Yu Darvish allowed two runs in eight innings of work on Friday night while striking out 11 batters. Darvish looked refreshed after a few extra off days and once again looked like a potential ace.
Then Justin Grimm turned in a solid performance for his MLB debut Saturday night. Grimm had just been promoted from Double-A Frisco and worked six innings, allowed three earned runs and struck out seven batters. Grimm was given the start because of his ability to throw strikes at Frisco and he came as advertised. He did not walk a single batter and had only needed 88 pitches to get through six innings of work.
Roy Oswalt will make another start for Triple-A Round Rock today and should be ready for big league action soon as well as Derek Holland who has resumed his throwing program and should come off the disabled list soon. Ron Washington stated that at this point it is unclear if Grimm will get another start or not, but he will be considered due to his performance on Saturday. With Oswalt and Holland around the corner it would seem he will not get many more starts, but with the way Feldman has thrown the ball out of the rotation, Grimm deserves at least one more opportunity.
This is a team that has their eyes set on the postseason and has to make decisions that are best for this season. They have to put men on the mound that give them the opportunity to win baseball games, no matter who that is. When Holland returns, he should be able to do that, but Feldman has not taken advantage of his opportunity and it is unclear how Roy Oswalt will perform once he is activated. This is not about playing favorites, it is about who can get batters out. Whether that is Feldman, Oswalt, Grimm, Ogando or anyone else, the only thing that matters for a contender is who can get the job done.
The Rangers finally have some starting pitchers throwing the ball very well, it is just going to be a matter of finding at least one more who can consistently do that, start after start.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.