Rangers News and Notes – Week 4

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, April 30th, 2016

MLB.Nomar homer(2)

BY DIC HUMPHREY
DIC.HUMPHREY@YAHOO.COM

ARLINGTON, Texas – A. J. Griffin threw the Rangers best game for
a starting pitcher this year on Tuesday night. He became the first
starting pitcher to go eight innings and surrendered a single run to
lower his ERA to 2.52 in four starts. His record improved to 3-0 as
the Texas offense supported him with 10 runs.
Cole Hamels is the ace of the staff. He has started four games,
has a 3-0 record and a 2.52 ERA. HMM!
Griffin struggled last year in his recovery from Tommy John
surgery and was released by Oakland. The Rangers signed him to a
minor league contract with an invite to spring training. When
training camp began, he was thought to have little chance to crack the
starting rotation, but instead was viewed as potential depth that
could help the team later in the season as his rehab progressed.
At the end of spring training, he was the fifth starter, but not
because he pitched well to earn it. All the other candidates simply
pitched worse. It was no secret that at the end of spring training,
the Rangers explored trade possibilities with other clubs for a
starting pitcher, most notably Arizona’s Archie Bradley. A trade
could not be worked out, so on the fourth day of the season, Griffin
was finally officially named to start the fifth game.
The fifth starter slot was largely thought to be a place holder
for Yu Darvish until he returns in May. Griffin however isn’t playing
the part. He’s making a really good case to be in the rotation when
Darvish completes his minor league rehab assignment, which begins this
Sunday in Frisco.
Usually, these decisions sort themselves out. An injury for
example could take care of the problem. It seems inconceivable that
the Rangers will have five starting pitchers all pitching well when
Darvish is ready to be activated.
However, Ranger starting pitching has been the strength of the
team for the first 22 games. The starting pitchers have completed
at least five innings in all 22 and have turned in 16 quality starts.
Only once has a starting pitcher allowed as many as five runs. There
are currently no starters that are candidates to be dropped from the
rotation based upon their performance.
One possible solution is a six man rotation. Manager Jeff
Banister has indicated that it is a consideration when Darvish
returns.
Griffin was once a very good pitcher before undergoing Tommy
John surgery. He in fact has completed at least five innings in all
51 Major League starts in his career. It was thought that if Griffin
returned to anything near his previous form, that Texas could have the
steal of the off season. So far, Griffin is making that look possible
if not likely. He’s making the Rangers’ starting rotation decision
when Darvish returns difficult.
Nomar Mazara was brought to spring training largely to get
accustomed to the Major League clubhouse. He was regarded as one the
Rangers’ top three minor league prospects and he particularly hit well
in spring training. He was ticketed all along though for AAA Round
Rock, as the Rangers hoped to give him a full season of experience at
the highest minor league level.
That all changed in the first week of the season when Sin-Shoo
Choo sustained a calf injury. The Rangers didn’t hesitate to bring up
Mazara. Banister inserted him into right field and the number two
slot in the batting order. He has not disappointed. He goes into the
weekend with a .345 batting average, 10 runs scored, two home runs,
six RBIs and a .906 OPS.
Choo is still perhaps a month away from returning, but the
outfield picture could get crowded sooner if Josh Hamilton returns.
He could be ready in the next two weeks. That brings up the question
as to what to do with Mazara.
On one hand, a 10 day stint in the minors will push Mazara’s
eligible date for free agency out for another year. That’s a strong
incentive to send him down at least for a short period of time.
However, Mazara has done nothing but impress. He is a clear defensive
upgrade over Choo in right field. He likely will be named the
American League Rookie of the Month for April next week.
There are a number of possibilities…like the pitching
situation…an injury could quickly clear up any anticipated log jam.
The Rangers could reduce their pitching staff to 12 to make available
another position player roster spot. One thing is for sure
though…Nomar Mazara is not making the decision, to send him down to
the minors when Choo or Hamilton return, an easy one for Ranger
management.

AND ALSO:
– Going into the weekend, the Rangers rank 14th in batting average
among all Major League teams, and rank sixth in the American League at
.250. They have scored 95 runs, which ranks 11th in baseball, but 95
is good enough to be tied for second in the A. L. with Baltimore.
Boston leads with 114.
– On the pitching side, the Rangers rank 12th in ERA overall, and
eighth in the American League. Starting pitchers have recorded 10
wins, which is second in the A.L. to Chicago.
– The Rangers have made just 10 errors over the first 22 games, and
their fielding percentage is fifth overall and third in the A.L.
behind Kansas City and Baltimore. Five of the 10 errors have been
committed by outfielders, while the left side of the infield has erred
just once. (One error for Elvis Andrus, none for Adrian Beltre).

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