Derek Holland has apparently found something Alexi Ogando misplaced. On a cold, wet and windy day at Wrigley Field, Ogando apparently thought he was throwing batting practice for the Texas Rangers and not actually put into game type situations. He gave up five earned runs, including back-to-back home runs to Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano, lasting just 2.1 innings in a 6-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs Thursday afternoon.
Holland on the other hand, through three starts, is 1-0 with an ERA south of two and holding opposing batters under a combined .200 average. Is this the real Derek Holland that we’re seeing — finally? Or are crowing about him a little soon? I’ve never been very complimentary of Holland, calling him “inconsistent” more times than not, but I really hope the Texas Rangers actually got through to the 26-year-old left-hander this time around. Maybe he’s finally taking himself seriously instead of doing impressions to anyone who asks.
Meanwhile, out of the bullpen, Tanner Scheppers has been phenomenal. Through seven appearances this season (7.1 IP) he has yet to give up a single earned run walking just one batter and striking out five.
Everyone talked about the Angels, picking them as the preseason favorites to win the AL West, but apparently forgot what matters in the grand scheme of things — pitching. Yes they have Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, but even if they put up six runs night in and night out, their rotation and bullpen can’t seem to keep runs off the board and have been giving up more than their offense puts up. Hence where the problem comes in.
The Texas Rangers, aside from Ogando’s bad start and Matt Harrison‘s weak arm, which landed him on the disabled list after just two starts, have gotten great performances from Holland and Yu Darvish, if you don’t count his usual struggles against the Mariners. While the five spot in the rotation is a little shakey, Texas has been able to squeak out of games thanks to great starting pitching and a lockdown bullpen that has done the job every time they’ve been asked.
Think of it like this: The Texas Rangers are holding their ground and will be getting Colby Lewis and Joakim Soria back some time in May and early June, respectively. Then they get Neftali Feliz back sometime after the All-Star break. It’s like acquiring three pitchers at the trade deadline but without having to give up a single trade piece.
All the Texas Rangers has to do is tread water for now. Come the end of July, they’ll add the pieces they need and will be well on their way to leaving the rest of the division in the dust.