If the Rangers and Yankees should meet again in the playoffs this season, Ron Washington might want to jigger his rotation so that Alexi Ogando only starts games played in Texas.
Ogando has pitched in the Bronx twice this season and the Yankees have smacked him around both times. He gave up five runs in six-plus innings in April, a dismal start that was light years ahead of the effort he turned in on Tuesday night. Ogando couldn't get out of the second inning as he allowed six hits and six runs to a Yankee offense that crushed everything he sent their way.
For a pitcher that has been as successful as Ogando has been this season, the natural response to a night like that is to shrug your shoulders and assume that next time will be better. Everyone is entitled to an off night or two over the course of a long season and the Yankees have the kind of lineup that can make those nights really painful.
For the Rangers' sake, let's hope that's the case. A strong Ogando gives them a much better chance of repeating last year's playoff run. There was something about last night's performance that makes it hard to feel completely fine with that assessment, though.
Perusing the PitchF/X data from the outing shows nothing wildly out of the ordinary from past Ogando starts. He had the same mix of fastballs and sliders, worked the same locations and had the same velocity. He missed some spots with his fastballs, leaving them over more of the plate than he'd like, but he's done that in the past without getting tuned up the way he did on Tuesday.
That would seem to suggest that the problem had more to do with the Yankee bats than Ogando's arm, but what if the problem was the fact that Ogando did exactly the same thing that he was doing before?
Ogando was largely an unknown quality when he landed a spot in the rotation and he's used that to his advantage. Teams catch up over the course of time, however, and starters with only two pitches can find it hard to keep seeing great results as video reveals their patterns and habits in vivid detail. On nights when Ogando has A-1 command and stuff, that's not necessarily a huge problem. If he's a bit wonky, though, it will lead to disasters like we saw on Tuesday night.
The only way to protect against that is to vary your approach enough to keep hitters from sitting on pitches that they know are about to come their way. Ogando will have to adjust to the way that hitters are adjusting to him at some point and Tuesday night might have been the first sign that those adjustments need to come sooner rather than later.