ST PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 17: : Pitcher Josh Johnson #55 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the interleague game at Tropicana Field on June 17, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
In a brief series, we'll take a look at possible trade deadline targets of the Texas Rangers after one potential target, starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, has reportedly been dealt from the Chicago Cubs to the Atlanta Braves.
With the Texas Rangers starting rotation already a bit in shambles with Neftali Feliz struggling through his rehab assignment and Roy Oswalt dealing with his latest back issue, the club was dealt a huge blow on Monday when it was announced postseason beast and the rock of their rotation, Colby Lewis, would miss the rest of the season.
That announcement changed the Rangers from a team that could be looking for pitching help at the July 31 trade deadline to a team that has no other choice but to do so, as their focus immediately went from upgrading their bench to getting a horse to put at the front of their rotation.
One of the big names being tossed around out there is Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson, who the Rangers have been hot on the trail of for years now, though that cooled a bit when he was shelved last season with shoulder inflammation.
The 28-year-old righty, who stands 6-feet-7, is an absolute stud when healthy. In 2010, he led the National League in ERA before being shelved after 60 1/3 innings in 2011 when his ERA was a crisp 1.64. This season, in his return from injury, he's been on and off with an ERA of 4.14 for the disappointing Marlins, but in his last start on Monday night, he was all kinds of "on".
Johnson went 6 innings, giving up just one hit and picking up a victory over the Atlanta Braves, but had to leave early after a small blister developed on his middle finger. It was just precautionary. Perhaps Braves' veteran slugger Chipper Jones said it best following the game when he said Johnson was the "most dominant" he'd ever seen him. Maybe that means Johnson is well on his way back to being himself.
The Marlins are probably less likely to deal Johnson than they were on Monday afternoon because they dealt starter Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers. That means in order for the Rangers to get Johnson, who would be under contract through the 2013 season, they'd likely have to part ways with top pitching prospect Martin Perez, who starts tonight in place of Lewis. It's pretty much a certainty that any pitcher the Rangers get would require hot 1B/3B/OF prospect Mike Olt, who's torn Double-A apart in Frisco this year.
2012 stats: 6-7, 4.14 ERA, 105 strikeouts, 35 walks, 1.337 WHIP
Likelihood of becoming a Ranger (on scale of 1-10): 6
Pros: Controllable past 2012 season, should get back to the old Josh Johnson next season
Cons: Probably not ready to front a rotation for a contender yet, would cost Mike Olt and Martin Perez