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Tommy Hunter Reminds Us That He's Tommy Hunter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    They say the grass is always greener on the other side and nothing illustrates that more than the way people talk about the return of Tommy Hunter to the Rangers.

    In these pages and elsewhere, you see discussion of which Rangers starter will be shuffled to the bullpen to make room for the triumphant return of Hunter to the rotation. Who cares that Alexi Ogando has been highly successful as a starter to this point, the argument goes, he should go back to pitching in relief so that Hunter can take his turn.

    On the surface, that makes a good deal of sense. Hunter was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA last season and he was unbeaten at home. Those are strong numbers for a guy who hasn't turned 25 yet and you figure that, at the very least, there's more of the same to come from the big fella when he's done with his rehab stint.

    We're not quite so sure. Hunter's superficial numbers are excellent, but they were built on a shaky foundation. His strikeout rate is infinitesimal which makes his decent walk rate look less pretty. He gives up too many home runs and his batting average on balls in play was lower than you'd expect to see for a pitcher of his abilities. The fact that he generates a lot of groundballs helps explain the low rate, but it still feels unsustainable over the long term.

    That unsustainability was on display during Wednesday's rehab outing at Round Rock. Hunter gave up five hits and three runs in just two-thirds of an inning before rain mercifully cut his outing short. Everyone has bad nights so we aren't going to say Hunter wouldn't be a helpful addition to the Rangers staff in some way, but those who think he solves any pitching problems going forward should now have fair warning.

    He's Tommy Hunter which is good enough to do the same kind of back end work that Derek Holland has turned in to this point in the season. Maybe he's a tick better, but he may be coming to a reckoning thanks to his style of pitching and that's not going to be good for business.

    The point is, he's Tommy, not Catfish, Hunter and that means the search for pitching help doesn't end with his arrival in Arlington.