Matt Harrison Injured- Who Will Fill In?
As of about 3:45PM on Friday, Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels informed reporters that starting pitcher Matt Harrison will require surgery on a herniated disk in his lower back. While the time table for his return has yet to be confirmed, it appears the Rangers will be without their opening day starter until at least the All-Star break. With the news of Harrison extending his stay on the disabled list, the Rangers’ pitching staff is now in shambles. Accompanying Harrison on the DL are starting pitchers Colby Lewis, Martin Perez, and Neftali Feliz as well as relief pitcher Joakim Soria.
Now that the injury bug has hit Texas in full effect, who can the Rangers find to help shoulder the load in the starting rotation? Currently pitcher Justin Grimm is filling in for Harrison but the Rangers may consider other options, rather than having Grimm in the rotation for remainder of the first half of the season.
Texas may be soon find themselves, if they aren’t already, in the trade market for someone to take Harrison’s place. Suspected bottom dwellers such as the Miami Marlins may be a team that the Rangers check on. After unloading almost half of its roster in the off-season, Miami is picked by just about everyone in baseball to finish near the bottom in the National League East division race. Rangers may look into kicking the tires on someone like Miami’s Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco is a RHP with a career record of 76-66 with a 4.48 ERA. Nolasco sports a low 90’s fastball along with a slider, curveball, and split finger fastball. The righty is generally consistent throwing strikes (career 926 strikeouts/ 266 walks) but can be a victim of the long-ball at times, something that does not mix well with Rangers Ballpark.
Another candidate that the Rangers may consider is Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris. Although Houston may be reluctant to trade within the division, they may look past this as many experts predict it will be a few years before they are competitive once again. This season, Norris is currently 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA. Although he has a good repertoire of pitches, including a mid 90’s fastball with a power slider, he is a bit inconsistent at times as he has a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. It is no secret the Astros are in rebuilding mode, and like the Marlins, will try to get as many prospects out of Texas as possible.
It will be interesting to see if the Rangers are interested in possibly including a prospect such as Mike Olt or Leury Garcia, to get immediate help with starting pitching. Regardless of what the Rangers decide to do, I am sure the next few weeks will be busy for Daniels and company as they scour the market.