The Texas Rangers and “offense” have been synonymous since the 1994 strike, producing five MVP seasons, three more than any other American League team. And through 10 games in 2011, that doesn’t seem to change. The Rangers lead the majors in home runs and slugging percentage and are top 8 in most other offensive categories.
With Alexei Ogando’s gem Monday (7 innings (on only 79 pitches!), 2 hits, 1 walk, zero runs, 4 strikeouts), the Rangers’ team ERA dropped below 2.50 and their WHIP is hovering just above 1.00. Ogando out-dueled Justin Verlander, who was good enough to win (complete game, 6 hits, 1 walk, 2 runs). Ogando’s story is a unique one, filled with a rule-5 wavier claim, human-trafficking scam, and a five-year ban from the US, all of which is wonderfully chronicled here.
Ogando was excellent as the right-handed setup bullpen arm last season, with a 1.30 ERA over 41.2 innings, and was forced into the rotation when Tommy Hunter injured himself. If Alexei keeps pitching like this, the Rangers will have an awesome predicament: too much pitching.
The Texas Rangers pitching staff currently lead all of Major League Baseball in ERA, hits allowed, batting average against, WHIP, have 8 quality starts (and are one out away from nine), and opposing OPS is 60 points lower than the next-best team.
It seems like every Rangers pitcher has an interesting story. C.J. Wilson is a converted reliever and known for his social media exploits. Colby Lewis spent a few seasons in Japan after flaming out with the Rangers and Tigers in the early part of the decade. Derek Holland was a 25th-round draft-and-follow player who showed up in A-ball with a 95 mph left handed fastball. Matt Harrison’s wife heckles umpires from the stands while other players’ wives talk about redecorating. And then there’s Ogando.
Alexei will not hold up over the entire season. He’s a converted outfielder with jerky mechanics. He’s best suited for the bullpen, where he was immensely successful last season. It’s also being reported that Ogando has fluid under a callous from a blister he developed during his last start. Obviously his pitching hand is not going to hold up over 150+ innings. If you took a flyer on him already, try to sell high. Otherwise, stay away.