Texas Rangers’ Alexi Ogando: Starter Or Reliever?
Alexi Ogando, starter or reliever? If you are a fan of the Texas Rangers, you have been hearing this debate wage on for a number of seasons. This debate seems to have split the fan base down the middle much like the “trade or keep Jurickson Profar” battle. It has been beaten to death over and over again about what the Rangers should do with the hard throwing right hander, but still, Ogando’s future is still up in the air.
Alexi Ogando first broke into the big leagues in June of 2010 at the age of 26. Originally drafted as a outfielder by the Oakland A’s, the Rangers selected Ogando in the Rule 5 draft and converted him into a pitcher. After a few seasons in the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League (and a 5 year ban from entering the US after confessing to his part in a human trafficking ring) Ogando was able to enter the country and was assigned to the minor leagues.
In 2010 when Alexi finally made the big league squad he appeared in 44 games out of the bullpen. He held his own in his rookie season with an ERA of 1.30 and a WHIP of 1.128 in 41 innings pitched. In the next season, Ogando got his first shot at the starting rotation when starter Tommy Hunter was injured in spring training. Ogando didn’t disappoint. That season he made 29 starts and made the AL All-Star team. In the first half Ogando was electric as he posted a 2.92 ERA while holding hitters to a .213 batting average and SO/BB ratio of 3.39. After the all-star break the career high in innings appeared to take its toll on Alexi as his post All-Star numbers were as follows: 4.48 ERA, opponent’s batting average of .267, and SO/BB ratio of 2.40. Ogando would finish up the last week of the regular season in the bullpen and would stay there throughout the playoff run and into next season. This is where things get interesting.
Last season Ogando was plagued by injuries and was only able to appear in 58 games and made one start. Entering 2013 the Rangers decided to give the pitcher another shot at the starting rotation and he has been having some great success. Through 10 starts this season, Ogando is 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA.
Ogando has never had the issues with his talent, sporting a mid to upper 90’s fastball and hard slider, but rather has always seemed to be bitten by the injury bug. Not even halfway into 2013 and the right hander has already found himself on the DL twice, both with arm/shoulder injuries. While the injuries themselves are not serious, it begs to ask the question. Can his body sustain the workload of a starter?
With starters such as Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis still battling back from injuries themselves, once they do deem themselves healthy enough to return to the majors, would Ogando be best served coming out of the bullpen? Already this season Rangers’ have already used 20 different pitchers and the bullpen has logged a staggering 200+ innings. With recent struggles of relievers Michael Kirkman and Cory Burns, Ogando could once again find himself in a setup role to get the ball to closer Joe Nathan or Joakim Soria, when he, as well, returns from injury.
As the debate continues on what to do with Ogando, you can be certain, if he is healthy, he can be one of the cornerstones for this franchise.