Earlier this week, I had a piece up on the ESPN SweetSpot Page in which I took a look at the Major League records that the Rangers are approaching in regards to the number of pitchers used in a season and total players used in a season. Suffice to say, it's been a tough year for Texas on the injury front, so I took an opportunity to look at the various scenarios in which the Rangers could get the job done.
One possibility I mentioned, Luke Jackson, almost certainly will not be seeing any Major League action this season. At one point in the season, he was viewed as a virtual lock to join the Rangers when rosters expand on September 1, but his 9.75 ERA in 36 IP since joining Triple-A Round Rock gave Jon Daniels and the Rangers pause, as Daniels has said Jackson won't be joining the team this season. Jackson's 6.09 FIP plays a bit better than the ERA, but it's still not good, and his struggles have quickly turned around what was once a promising season in the higher levels of the minor leagues.
Despite that, another possibility I mentioned, Ryan Rua, will indeed be a part of a record, as he will start at 1st base against Houston tonight, getting the Rangers tied with the record of 59 players used on the season. It stands to reason that when Derek Holland is activated when rosters expand, as well as some other September call-ups, Texas will shatter the current mark that, until today, was shared by three different ball clubs.
Rua has had himself a nice season, starting out in Frisco while putting up a wRC+ of 144 in 288 plate appearances before being promoted to Round Rock. Since arriving at Round Rock earlier this season, he's put up a 131 wRC+ in 241 plate appearances. Before arriving at Triple-A Round Rock, he was typically in the infield, but since the promotion, he's played almost exclusively in the outfield. For now, it appears that the Rangers want to see if he's able to show some of the same talent at the Major League level, and given that the season has been lost for several months now, there's really no downside to this move, with the exception of Rua crashing and burning under the weight of Major League competition.
Given the things I've read about him, I don't really see that happening, but he'll certainly have to prove he can have competitive at-bats and show the Rangers that perhaps he deserves a shot come Spring Training in February of 2015.
Rua offers some pop in his bat. While it's not quite as prodigious as that of Joey Gallo, when you consider that Rua has a strikeout percentage of 18.3% as opposed to Gallo's homer-or-bust swing that has produced a strikeout percentage of 33.5%. That isn't to say that Gallo is destined to be a bust, or that Rua will end up profiling as a better Major League player. What it does mean, however, is that it's a bit easier to feel comfortable projecting what a player like Rua might look like at the Major League level than it is for someone like Gallo.
And that, I think, is why the Rangers are willing to give this a shot. It's great to have a player with a ceiling as high as Gallo's on the farm, but it's also nice to have a guy like Rua that is a bit "easier" to predict value for. There are many within the organization that have been excited with what Rua has been doing this season, and now, it appears he'll get a chance to spend the next four weeks or so auditioning for a role on the 2015 ball club.