This just hasn't been Alexi Ogando's year.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Rangers pitcher was put on the disabled list for the third time this season, joining Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto as the only two pitchers in baseball this year with three separate trips to the disabled list. The Rangers called up Travis Blackley, who made his 2013 starting debut and pitched four innings before Neal Cotts earned a win.
Now, Ogando is on the shelf again with his nerve inflammation/shoulder soreness and will be until at least early September, if not longer. You'd have to think that unless the Rangers acquire another starting pitcher, Ogando will return to the rotation as the club's No. 5 starter when he's healthy and then shift to the bullpen for the postseason — unless Blackley can get stretched out pretty quickly.
“I am comfortable with what we’ve got, always looking around but I don’t anticipate anything,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told reporters about the possibility of acquiring another pitcher, possibly Dan Haren or Erik Bedard. “There are a few guys who have cleared waivers but I’m not optimistic that there’s going to be the right fit between somebody we have interest in that is truly available at a price we think is worth it. So we are fully expecting to go with this group, and I don’t mean that in a negative way — we like our team.”
But there doesn't seem to be much doubt that the best plan for Ogando beyond 2013 is to move back to the bullpen, where he's been an electric arm in the past (2010 and 2012) as either a set-up man or a versatile late-inning arm that could give you as many as three innings depending on the situation.
Ogando is cheap and under club control through 2017 though he will hit arbitration this winter and get more than his current half-million per year deal. There's been some talk Ogando could be a part of an off-season trade, but at this point with his declining velocity (most likely due to injury) and his ongoing durability issues, teams aren't going to be clamoring to acquire him this winter.
He's pretty much proven he belongs on the roster as a lockdown reliever, not as an inefficient starter, and that's where he should be in 2014 and beyond.