Ross Detwiler's Failed Rotation Experiment

Like some of you, I was optimistic -- probably overly -- that Ross Detwiler could be a successful American League starting pitcher. Unlike last year, where the Rangers attempted to sneak RHP Tanner Scheppers and LHP Robbie Ross into the rotation to steal some innings, Detwiler had prior major league success in the starter role. The difference between the three pitchers actually illustrates the status of the organizations they were (or still are) a part of: the Nationals are so deep in pitching that they could afford to lose Detwiler without hesitation, while Texas has been without real starting pitching depth for the last few seasons. 

Almost like a lottery, Jon Daniels and the Rangers front office have been trying to convert relievers to starters since C.J. Wilson took the league by storm in 2010. What followed was Alexi Ogando, who was strong when healthy; Neftali Feliz, who lasted 42 innings as a starter before going under the knife, only to return to a relief role; then there were Ross and Scheppers, who didn't pan out. 

Detwiler came from a different team in a different league, but he isn't any different than the collection listed above. He wants to be a starting pitcher. He sees himself as a starting pitcher. 

But he is not a starting pitcher. 

On Sunday, staked to a 7-2 lead after the Rangers ran circles around James Paxson's existence, Detwiler allowed a walk and four consecutive hits -- one being Nelson Cruz's second HR of the game -- before Brian Bannister yanked the left-hander. 

His final line read: 2.1 IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 0 K's, 1 BB

His 2015 line reads: 12.1 IP, 25 hits, 18 runs, 5 K's, 7 BB's. Ross Detwiler has recorded outs on 37 of the 69 batters he has faced this year. He has allowed 2.7 base runners per every inning he has pitched. 

Still, it's okay if Detwiler only ends up in the bullpen this season, because in a way that was part of the expectation from the beginning. His left-handedness in short bursts as a relief pitcher was the built-in insurance policy when JD acquired him from Washington. He gave up superfluous prospects -- 2B Chris Bostick and RHP Abel De Los Santos -- and got in return a superfluous arm from the pitching-rich Nationals. The Rangers don't have markedly better options than Ross in the rotation, but he would certainly improve the bullpen right now -- another area this club is sorely lacking in.

Ross Detwiler was not a bad acquisition, but he has been very bad as starter this year.

The Rangers are 5-8

That's the kind of game the Rangers aren't supposed to lose.

  • Ross Detwiler was beyond awful again, failing to even complete 3 innings despite the Rangers handing him a 7-2 lead.
     
  • Seattle cut the margin to 7-5 before the Rangers got to 10 runs, making it 10-5 until the bottom of the 8th inning.
     
  • Tanner Scheppers, making his second appearance since coming off of the DL, was yet again erratic with his command, walking the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning.
     
  • The whole thing fell apart from there. The Mariners came back to win it in the bottom of the 9th, 11-10.
     
  • I mentioned this on Twitter, but I have yet to see any significant difference in the in-game tactics of Ron Washington and Jeff Banister. Some people didn't like that I said that, mentioning that Feliz never would have been brought into the game during the 8th inning with Wash. To me, that wasn't even the issue.

    For starters, Tanner Scheppers should have been given a very short leash, but apparently Banister has decided to go with the old "tried and true" process of having specific roles for specific guys, and Scheppers has been deemed to be the 8th inning guy. After the first walk, someone should have been warming up, and it shouldn't have taken until Scheppers walked the bases loaded for someone to be ready to come into the game. Not with Scheppers only recently coming off of the DL, and not with the players due up in the order.

    Furthermore, the continued insistence to bat Elvis Andrus 2nd baffles me. For all the talk before the season of the team getting away from the early sacrifice bunt, it's remained a staple of the offense. It makes absolutely not sense.

    I realize it's still early, but for a manager that was supposed to inject some change to the organization, we've simply reverted back to pretty much what Ron Washington was doing that drove us all crazy. And that bothers me.

The Rangers are 5-7

This is how Colby Lewis's first three starts have looked in 2015:

  • @OAK -- 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 4 K's, 2 BB's
  • HOU -- 7.1 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 5 K's, 0 BB's
  • @SEA -- 5.2 IP, 10 hits, 3 runs, 2 K's, 2 BB's

At $4 million this year, it's fair to say Lewis is about exactly what the Rangers were hoping he would be at this point. With two starters eventually returning (Derek Holland, Martin Perez), one who might return someday (Matt Harrison), and potential starters like Chi-Chi Gonzalez, Jake Thompson and Luke Jackson coming up through the minor leagues, the expectation for Lewis wasn't that he would be a workhorse. 

Heading into the year, ZiPS projected Colby to throw 100 innings in 2015; Steamer projected 154. I like to think his true innings total falls somewhere in the middle of that range, and it's roughly what you would expect from a $4 million back of the rotation starter. 

Watching Cobra pitch now, it's hard not to think back on his postseason success a half decade ago. He is, after all, the franchise's most accomplished October starter, ever. Seeing him exhaust what will probably be his last innings for the Rangers -- if not his career as a whole -- for a team that probably won't be in legitimate playoff contention is, as a big fan of Lewis, a major letdown. He deserves better than this. 

Otherwise, the Rangers are 5-7 and one game out of first place in the American League West.

Sources: Rangers Pursuing Josh Hamilton

According to sources close to myself and Billy Casey of Shutdown Inning, the Rangers are currently working on a scenario that would put Josh Hamilton back in a Texas uniform. The details we know so far:

  • There is a possibility that, as also reported by Ken Rosenthal earlier today, that the Angels could buy out a significant portion of Hamilton's contract, which would make him free to sign with any team. From what we know, his desire is to end up back in Texas.
     
  • Barring that, a trade could also be a possibility, with the Angels eating a significant portion of the contract. The exact details of a potential trade are unknown at this time, although no significant prospects are expected to be moved.
     
  • The Rangers are looking to take Hamilton on for approximately $1 million a year in either scenario.
     
  • Any move is not expected to be completed until next week.

More details to follow as they become available.

The Rangers are 5-6

That was, overall, a pretty fun game. With the 3-1 victory, the Rangers currently find themselves only a half-game back of 1st place in the AL West. How's that for parity? Some thoughts:

  • The Rangers struck first in the top of the 1st inning as Leonys Martin worked a 6-pitch walk. Two batters later, Prince Fielder hammered a ground ball up the left field line for an RBI double. The Rangers never looked back.
     
  • Robinson Chirinos led of the 5th inning with a home run, making it a 2-0 game.
     
  • Yovani Gallardo had another solid outing, going 6.0 innings while allowing 6 hits, 2 walks, and no runs. After a rough first start against Oakland, Gallardo has been solid has last two times out on the hill.
     
  • Tanner Scheppers made his season debut, and wasn't particularly sharp. Fortunately, he got through the 8th inning while only allowing 1 run.
     
  • Speaking of the 8th inning, after plating a run and a Robinson Cano single, Nelson Cruz came to the plate to face Tanner Scheppers representing the go-ahead run. He got several middle-middle pitches, and the one he took a swing at had many Rangers fans scared for a moment. Instead of a home run, it ended up being a deep fly ball to Carlos Peguero, and we all collectively exhaled.
     
  • Adam Rosales drove in an important insurance run in the top of the 9th inning with a shot that caromed off of 3rd base and high into the air, allowing Robinson Chirinos to score.
     
  • Neftali Feliz came in and closed the game out. The only moment of panic was a ball that Shin-Soo Choo had to pull back from over the wall to rob the Mariners of a would-be home run.
     
  • I want to take a moment to talk about Prince Fielder. No, he hasn't hit a home run yet, but he's easily been the most impressive player the Rangers have had thus far. After another 2-hit night with a walk, he has a .419 average with an OPS of .967. He's a completely different guy that what we saw last season, and is driving the ball to all fields, even if it isn't quite clearing the fences just yet. It's nice to see him taking what the pitching and the fielding alignments give him, and I have a feeling he's going to be really exciting to watch for the remainder of the 2015 season.