There was reason for optimism after Yu Darvish's one-hit shutout on Friday night. The Rangers had won two in a row after losing 9 out of 11, and it looked -- albeit briefly -- like Texas had made its way out of recent hibernation.
The last two days, however, have been about what we've come to expect lately from the Rangers. On Saturday Martín Perez was shelled for the third time in as many starts, and this afternoon Robbie Ross followed with much of the same.
Since Perez's 27-inning scoreless streak, he's allowed 19 ER spanning 13.1 innings on the bump, which includes 24 hits and 10 free passes. He's looked almost nothing like the pitcher who began the season with a 1.42 ERA through his first 38.0 innings.
And since we're running with the theme of unflappable optimism: In potentially devastating news, Martín is scheduled to get an MRI on his left elbow. So, hoping for the best as far as that goes. I don't want to say the Rangers can't win the American League West without Martín Perez in the rotation for a significant amount of time -- like, say, the rest of the year, for instance -- but we're getting there.
Ross hasn't been much better; in his last three starts he's surrendered 17 ER on 29 hits in 15.1 IP, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of just 6:4. Two weeks ago I posited, "In five starts in 2014 (29.1 IP), Robbie has almost reached the halfway mark in his career-high for innings pitched (65.0 in 2012), so these next few weeks should be interesting in how he deals with the workload."
I suppose we'll never know if it's a workload issue, or just the fact that Robbie Ross's overall pitching repertoire isn't particularly conducive to success in the American League. What we do know is he hasn't been very good lately, and if you are one to look at quality starts as a means to judge effectiveness, Robbie has had just two of those in eight starts.
The Rangers have bigger problems than Ross -- Perez's elbow just shot up to the top of that list -- but we are seeing how helpless Texas can look with basically 4/5 of its starting rotation going through a slump. Perez and Ross have left a black hole in the middle of it, and Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison have each experienced growing pains in their returns from injury. Yu Darvish is about all the Rangers can rely on at this point.
In the wake of Martín Perez's elbow, Nick Tepesch will be recalled from Triple-A on Wednesday to start in his place. On the season Tepesch is 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA and a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 45.2 Pacific Coast League innings. Like Brandon mentioned recently, I too was surprised Nick didn't crack the rotation out of spring training, and I have a feeling he isn't being called up to be just a temporary fix. He acquitted himself nicely in 2013 (4.84 ERA, 3.82 xFIP, 3.79 SIERA) over nearly 100 big league innings, so I'm excited to see if he can step up and become a valuable mid-rotation starter. The Rangers will take just about anything positive right now.
This week Texas takes on Houston, so maybe facing the worst team in baseball will provide some remedy to the team's recent woes.