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Harrison's Surgery Could Be Death Blow

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Matt Harrison was the Texas Rangers' Opening Day starter, being rewarded for a great season in 2012 when he put up a low-3.00 ERA and won 18 games as the club's most consistent starting pitcher.

He ended up getting hit hard by the lowly Houston Astros that night and the Rangers lost the season opener in primetime national television, 8-2. In his next start against the Los Angeles Angels, things went much worse as he was shelled.

We haven't seen him on the hill since as he was placed on the disabled list with a back injury that wasn't seen as being too serious. Then, things got worse, didn't get better and now we know Harrison will undergo back surgery on Tuesday to repair herniated discs in his back and likely won't return until after the all-star break.

So we're likely looking at three more months without the Rangers' No. 2 starter, who, if he pitched like he did in 2012 could almost be seen as a No. 1a behind Yu Darvish, who is without question the team's ace.

The Rangers were already thin in the rotation with Harrison as rookie Nick Tepesch unexpectedly won the No. 5 job out of spring training. Now, they are counting on Tepesch and fellow rookie Justin Grimm, who saw his 2012 audition go bad after an initial good start against the Astros. Now, through 10 innings of work in two starts, Grimm is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA, 11 strikeouts and four walks. Not too shabby.

The Rangers are still awaiting the return of Colby Lewis, who has been one of the Rangers' most consistent starters before undergoing elbow surgery last summer and being brought back on a one-year deal for 2013. Lewis is close to being sent out on a rehab assignment and could return in about a month. What the Rangers will get from him is still to be seen, but the Rangers seem happy with Lewis' progress in his rehab.

There are also names out there on the trade market like Houston's Bud Norris, and possibly Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, who Rangers fans are awfully familiar with. There are also reports the Tampa Bay Rays could trade ace David Price this year, and the Rangers have one well-known chip that could land him.

It'd be great if Tepesch and Grimm can carry the load of the rotation until Harrison gets back, but the chances of that actually happening aren't great.

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