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The Texas Rangers lost nine of their 12 last games heading into the 2016 All-Star break primarily due to poor performances from their starting pitching staff, which has put stress on their bullpen. Seven straight starting pitchers failed to pitch at least five innings starting on July 2 with a 17-5 Texas loss against the Twins until the bleeding stopped with Kyle Lohse pitched five innings against the Minnesota Twins on July 9 in an 8-6 Rangers loss also against Minnesota.
Injuries to Colby Lewis, Yu Darvish and Derek Holland have forced the team to use unproven options in Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez, Cesar Ramos and Luke Jackson while waiting for Lewis, Darvish and Holland to return from their respective injuries to fill their starting rotation and bullpen needs.
Heading into the All-Star break, only Cole Hamels and Martin Perez remain from the team’s Opening Day starting rotation.
The culprit is the lack of starting pitching development in the minor leagues. I am not saying that the team does not have pitchers. The Rangers minor league system has pitchers that might become starting pitchers at some point. However, the pitchers the club has called up recently do not appear have the stamina or a strong command of their pitches.
Gonzalez, Jackson and Martinez were all drafted by Texas and although they all ascended through the minor league ranks, once they faced major league exposure; they have struggled to find success during their time with the team during the 2016 Major League Baseball season.
Perez and Holland have experienced their own ups and downs during an otherwise successful first half for the American League West leading Rangers, although their lead over the second place Houston Astros has been trimmed to five and a half games with the Astros success over the last month and a half entering the All-Star Game in San Diego.
Before the team’s pitching struggles, it was foreshadowed during Derek Holland’s three starts (8.2 IP, nine hits allowed, nine earned runs five walks and six strikeouts) before he was placed on the 15-Day Disabled List with shoulder inflammation following his June 20 start against the Baltimore Orioles.
Martin Perez, who has appeared to be having a breakout in his first full major league season, thanks in part to the double play ground ball. However, the 25-year-old left handed pitcher has struggled with his command since his minor league career as well recently (seven walks in his last three starts) and when the young lefty yields base runners his emotions appear to get the best of him and lead to runs scored against him.
The factor that has led to the organization’s current struggles with pitching is that the organization has traded away promising pitching prospects in recent trades, Matt Garza in 2013 and Ryan Dempster in 2012. General managers do not always know the full potential of the prospects the place in trade packages and have to take the chance that the trade will benefit both teams in the future. However, the Cubs appear to have won the trades between the two organizations, with the development of starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks and reliever Carl Edwards Jr. as they have developed into key pieces for the 2016 World Series favorite Chicago Cubs.
It remains unknown if Hendricks and Edwards would have reached the major leagues if they had remained in the Rangers’ minor league system. However, the fact that they both are contributors to the Cubs during 2016 shows that Daniels missed the mark by trading these two prospects away for half season rentals in Garza and Dempster. This concept appears to have set back the reputation of starting pitchers in the team’s minor league system for the foreseeable future due to the lack of development of the organization’s drafted pitchers in Holland, Martinez and Gonzalez.