Alexi Ogando #41 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Houston Astros in the first inning at Minute Maid Park on April 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Back in 2011 when the Texas Rangers made a last-minute move to put relief pitcher Alexi Ogando in the starting rotation, many questions were raised about how effective the shutdown reliever would be as a starting pitcher.
Those were quickly answered when Ogando started the season on a 12-start streak of going at least six innings and jumped out to a 7-0 record on his way to making the AL all-star team. Of course, later that year, Ogando hit an innings wall and was returned to the bullpen where he once again dominated.
After putting up a 3.27 ERA in 66 innings of relief work in 2012, Ogando was stretched out to be a starter for the 2013 season and got off to another hot start, but this time it didn't last quite so long.
After giving up two earned runs in his first three starts, in which he finished with a 2-0 record and a 1.08 ERA, he's now allowed 10 in his past three and has fallen to 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA after taking a 5-0 to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
As they have been all season for Ogando, walks were an issue on Sunday, and not necessarily in quantity. He walked just two batters but they were both Josh Wilingham, and Willingham scored both times he was given a free pass, the second time coming on a homer from Justin Morneau.
It was the same old story for Ogando, who doesn't walk a ton of guys, but the guys he does walk seem to always score. His last two starts have been "quality starts" — at least 6 IP and three or fewer earned runs — both neither have resulted in a Rangers win and the numbers have spoken more highly of Ogando's pitching than the eyeball test has.
The Rangers don't have many options now but with guys like Martin Perez and Colby Lewis rehabbing back to good health, Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm looking good, Matt Harrison due back after the all-star break and the talk of maybe going after a pitcher at the deadline (David Price or Cliff Lee) is there a pretty solid chance Ogando is moved back to the bullpen? Seems like a viable option for the Rangers, or maybe he's one of those pieces dealt at the deadline?
Being under control until 2017 and being such a valuable reliever, it's hard to think about trading Ogando but to get a top-notch starter or bat (Giancarlo Stanton) he could be a coveted piece.