In what will be a daily post, we'll talk about the upcoming season for the Texas Rangers and where guys fit in on the roster. It's almost baseball time!
Ideally, your starting pitcher is going to go at least six innings in a ballgame. If he leaves after six with the lead, the stress begins as the game is handed over to the bullpen.
The seventh-inning guys in a bullpen are a major key to the pitching staff and the Rangers have several capable arms to throw out there. There will be a mish-mash of guys filling the seventh inning, but the likely stars will be Alexi Ogando, Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara.
Ogando was an all-star last year as a starter before shifting back to the bullpen for the postseason, where he was a lights-out, shut-the-door reliever until hitting a wall in the World Series with the rest of the Rangers' pen that was overworked. In 2010, Ogando was a nearly unhittable eighth-inning guy, setting up saves for Neftali Feliz.
Lowe posted a 3.80 ERA in 45 innings of work last season but was more effective to close the season than he was in the beginning before tanking in the postseason. He does have a very lively arm though and was, at one point, a candidate to be a set-up man for the Rangers before they acquired Mike Adams.
Uehara was one of the bigger trade-deadline acquisitions in baseball after posting a 1.72 ERA in Baltimore in 47 innings. After the trade to Texas, he struggled to a 4.00 ERA in 18 innings before he totally fell off the wagon in the postseason, giving up five runs in 1 1/3 innings before being left off the World Series roster. He seemed to be a certainty to be traded this winter, but nothing materialized and he vetoed two trades, so he's back and the Rangers have to approach him as if things can't get any worse for a guy that was so successful in Baltimore.
No matter the combination, the seventh inning seems to be in good hands, especially with Ogando moving back to the bullpen after a promising season as a starter in 2011.