NEWBERG REPORT PLUS — MARCH 25, 2007
OK. There are fewer than four people I know whose baseball acumen I consider to be virtually unassailable. One of them suggested I consider something as far as the Rangers’ pitching staff is concerned.
The way the season’s first month is constructed, the Rangers’ fifth starter will probably pitch on April 10 at home against Tampa Bay, on April 21 at home against Oakland, and on April 26 in Cleveland. And that’s it.
Let’s say that pitcher will give Texas 16 innings in those three starts. (Rangers starters as a whole averaged 5.2 innings a game last year. Their primary number five types in 2006 – John Koronka, John Rheinecker, and Kameron Loe – average 5.1 frames a start.)
Last year there was no de facto long man out of the bullpen when camp broke. It turns out there were five games in April in which a long reliever was called upon: Joaquin Benoit once, Fabio Castro once, Rick Bauer two times, and C.J. Wilson once. In those five games, they contributed 14.1 innings.
So maybe – maybe – the idea is this: as dirty as Loe has been this spring, is it possible that Texas wants to have him nail down the long man role out of the gate, where he can impact five or six games (to be determined, rather than preset) where he is needed to stem the tide and keep Texas in it, rather than earmark him to face the Devil Rays, A’s, and Indians and most likely sit the other 23 games in April?
And then, when April comes to a close, and a more regular rotation is called for as May’s 29 games loom, if Loe is still outpitching Jamey Wright at that point he and Wright can be exchanged and Loe can get the ball every fifth day.
In other words, maybe the long man will be more valuable to the Rangers in April than the number five starter will be, getting just about as many innings and contributing them in games where the situation – rather than the calendar – calls for him to get the ball.
I dunno. I’m just trying to figure out why Kam Loe hasn’t been pronounced a member of this club’s rotation, a job he was given the opportunity to win and in battling for which he certainly has done everything the club could possibly have wanted to see out of him, and this theory was as good as any I’ve heard.