There’s a negative force within the Rangers bullpen that needs to be exorcised immediately. To quote Austin Powers “I need an old priest and a young priest”. Derek Lowe has to go. There’s no easier way to say it. In 12.1 innings pitched he has allowed 11 runs. He has an ERA of 8.03 and a FIP of 6.08. He’s the only pitcher I know of who can turn an eight run lead into a nail biter within a few pitches. So what does Texas need to do?
First you have to take into account that there are currently only three relievers that the Rangers can truly count on: Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and, to an extent, Joe Nathan. I know fans would like to see Michael Kirkman sent back down but that just won’t happen since he’s out of options. Jason Frasor has seen the least amount of action (10 IP) so I’m not ready to throw the towel in on him yet. Ron Washington’s mismanagement of the bullpen and his tendency to overuse pitchers (i.e. Robbie Ross last season) has appeared to have taken a toll already on young Joseph Ortiz.
So I suggest that Derek Lowe is designated for assignment. Joe Ortiz then needs to be optioned back to triple-a Round Rock. Michael Kirkman is then slotted into the long relief role that Lowe was supposed to hold. Looking at the 40-man roster there are two possible right handed replacements in Cory Burns and Wilmer Font with Burns probably being the favorite. Getting rid of Lowe opens a spot on the 40-man which could be given to lefty Neal Cotts who could then be called up to replace Ortiz. Burns and Cotts will be the better replacements who would help hold down the fort until Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz return.
There’s also another option I have seen suggested and it involves calling Martin Perez up to a role in the pen. I just don’t see that happening. The Rangers are committed to him as a starter and it’s where he belongs. The early success of Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm gives Texas the option of letting Perez continue to pitch in the minors where he could be called-up if Tepesch or Grimm start tanking or (knock on wood) another starter is injured. Consider Perez an insurance policy.
Hopefully a change comes soon because I’m tired of chugging antacid every time Derek Lowe is handed the ball.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He has a blog at clawandantlernation.com and is a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland