By: Josh Clark
DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) – The Rangers headed into the second half of the season with the best record in the American League, and held a 5 1/2 game lead in the American League West division over the Houston Astros. After falling to the Cubs Friday afternoon, the lead is down to five games.
The 54-36 record looks great in print, but it could have been much better.
Texas limped into the all-star break. They sputtered to a 3-9 record in their last 12 games (now 3-13 in their last 13), losing two series to the lowly Minnesota Twins.
In that 12 game stretch, Texas starters didn’t get out the fifth inning in 7 consecutive games, a new franchise record. Only one time did a starter make it past five innings of work (Martin Perez: 7 IP 7/1 vs MIN)
A major reason Texas lost so many of those games can be attributed to injuries to the rotation and the pitchers filling in not getting the job done. (Perez lasted only 5 2/3 innings on Friday after allowing 5 ER.)
Texas has had only two starters from it’s opening day rotation since the middle of June when Yu Darvish (6/13), Derek Holland (6/21) and Colby Lewis (6/22) all went on the DL.
We’ve heard Rangers GM Jon Daniels talk about the club needing to address their starting pitching woes, and the need for quality arms just got even more pressing with Texas announcing Friday that Derek Holland was being moved to the 60-day DL with shoulder inflammation, making him unable to return until at least August 21. Lewis is already expected to be out until mid-August with a strained lat muscle.
Through all of the Rangers pitching troubles, their starting rotation still ranks ninth in the majors with a 4.07 ERA. But in order to keep that pace, Texas must deal for an arm to bolster their rotation for the stretch run.
Here are some of the options Texas could turn to on the trade market:
Tampa Bay’s rotation (Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, Chris Archer) – Nobody in Tampa’s rotation is having a good season, but they’re all young and under team control for a number of seasons.
I don’t see Tampa Bay dealing Archer. He can still be considered one of the more intriguing young arms in baseball despite having a rough 2016 so far. Not to mention he has options until 2021.
Odorizzi is a name to watch as the trade deadline nears. The 26-year-old has a 4.47 ERA in 19 starts, but he’s making just over $500,000 in 2016 and is under team control through 2019.
Moore is 5-6 with a 4.46 ERA in 18 starts this year, but he is coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2014. The 27-year-old was seen as a major part of the Rays future after he went 17-4 in 2013 before having the procedure. Moore has had some success recently, however, as he’s earned a quality start in three straight starts. He’s under control over the next three seasons for a total of $26 million.
Sonny Gray & Rich Hill: The prize on the trade market is Oakland’s Sonny Gray. Gray is also not having a successful season, but any deal Billy Beane includes Gray in will bring a a quality return. Beane is known to be ready to wheel and deal when his club isn’t in the hunt, and that’s why teams believe that Gray is available. He’s also arbitration eligible until 2019.
To get Gray in a deal, Texas would have start with at least one of Brinson, Gallo, Profar or Luis Ortiz in addition to a Dillon Tate, Ryan Cordell and Connor Sadzeck type prospect as well. Who knows? Oakland may want two of those top guys I mentioned. Whatever the price is, it’s going to be steep, but one you make for a guy like Sonny Gray.
Hill is having the best season of his career for Oakland. He shouldn’t command too high of prospects in a deal because he’s just a rental. Hill is 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA over 13 starts this season.
Jeremy Helickson: Helickson is another rental option for the Rangers that shouldn’t cost too much to get. He’s pitching for a rebuilding Philadelphia team that will surely deal him before the deadline. He has a 3.92 ERA in 18 starts this season.
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