The hierarchy of right-handed relief pitchers that Texas took to camp in February looked something like this:
Dave Bush (NRI)
Tanner Scheppers (NRI)
Ryan Tucker (NRI)
Cody Eppley (NRI)
Seth McClung (NRI)
Yhency Brazoban (NRI)
Brett Tomko (non-roster, no invite initially)
Where are they now?
Neftali Feliz (disabled list)
Mark Lowe (AAA)
Alexi Ogando (rotation)
Darren O’Day (60-day disabled list)
Mason Tobin (60-day disabled list)
Tanner Scheppers (AAA disabled list)
Yoshinori Tateyama (AAA)
Eric Hurley (60-day disabled list)
Omar Beltre (60-day disabled list)
Seth McClung (AAA)
Yhency Brazoban (AAA)
Fabio Castillo (AA)
And we haven’t even played four weeks of baseball.
Even more so considering Texas has the second best record in the American League.
Texas used 22 pitchers in 2010. When Tucker first makes an appearance, the club will have used 17 this month.
It’s a drastically different type of adversity from what the Rangers battled through last year, but this shoestring bullpen, as ill-fitting as it looks at the moment, could provide a real rallying point if it manages to hold things together relatively well until Feliz returns.
I saw something really cool the other day. I stopped by the Rangers’ Dallas Team Shop on McKinney Avenue, and there was a line of people waiting at the register. Most were without merchandise in hand, so I assume they were there to buy tickets. Never saw that last year, and I go by that shop fairly often. We’ve been reading about the huge walk-up mob descending on Rangers Ballpark this month, but it looks like it goes beyond that.
Texas is now fifth in the American League in per-game attendance (behind the Yankees, Twins, Angels, and Red Sox), and boasts the greatest per-game increase from 2010 in the big leagues, by a lot. Through last night, the Rangers were drawing 9,521 more fans per game than they did last year. Next is Toronto (7,946), and after that there are a few teams in the 5,000 range. All told, only 11 of the 30 teams are showing an increase of any kind.
The season ticket increase is a big factor, obviously, but the reason for a big walk-up – and apparently a good amount of advance sales, too – isn’t only because this team is a reigning pennant winner, but also because it’s an easy team to get behind. There’s a ton of fight in this franchise, in uniform and in the front office, and right now a lot of fights are getting won.
As Jon Morosi (Fox Sports) tweeted minutes ago: “What’s more impressive – that the Indians have the best record in the AL, or that the Rangers are No. 2 despite their injuries?”
(Speaking of which, a sampling of tonight’s in-game @newbergreport tweets:
Young starters losing confidence in their stuff? Sure hope not. Harry and Holland dancing outside the zone way too often. Can’t pitch timid.
I’d like Jim Knox to head over to that fan [the one who stole the foul ball from Adrian Beltre] and give him an on-air, white-shirt, white-pants earful.
Rather than charge premium for first-row seats in foul ground, when I own a team I’ll make customers pass a baseball IQ test.
Slightly dangerous move by Kins – if throw beats him [on Andrus single in the third], tag likely applied before YT scores. But that’s Rangers baseball, & I’m good with it.
How long before Little Leaguers in DFW start appealing to first on their own check swings? #genuflection
Fantastic to see Cruz go to right. That’s a good way to claw your way out of a slump.
Jo-Jo Reyes is more left-handed than you. #Napoli
Jays tie it. So Cody Eppley will get his first big league win tonight.
Step One to the Eppley win: Octavio Dotel enters.
Step Two to the Eppley win: Mitch Moreland, facing Dotel for the first time ever, trots.
@aandro notes that the fan behind 3B has gone home. Defense for the 9th just got a tick stronger.)
Ogando gets the ball tomorrow afternoon, hoping to give Texas a chance to split this series before a quick road trip to Oakland and Seattle. Maybe Tucker will be called upon to get BautistaZilla out in a big seventh-inning spot.
It’s not as if, on the scale of what we’ve already been treated to this month, it would be all that far-fetched.