Three's a trend.
You can always excuse getting pounded by the Yankees in the Bronx as one of the hazards of being a starting pitcher in the American League. A bad five innings in Atlanta were explained away by a mix of inconsistent command, poor fielding and dehydration. But Alexi Ogando's run out of mulligans.
When you give up eight hits and six runs in three innings against a team that normally struggles to hit water when they fall out of a boat, it is time to do some serious examination of what's wrong. We've done some dancing down this road in the past, but three bad starts in a row moves the issue from the front burner to the back burner.
The best case scenario is one that we've been pushing in these pages for a while. Ogando is new to starting and got the benefit of sneaking up on the opposition as a result of their limited scouting reports. The league has caught up to Ogando and now the pressure is on him to make a change to alter his results, just as Colby Lewis did earlier this season and just as every successful pitcher has had to do at one point or another in his career.
The other explanations are far more troubling. One is that Ogando has some kind of an injury, although that hasn't really manifested itself with sharp drops in velocity or location in recent weeks. No pitcher is ever immune from such concerns, however, so we dropped it in here.
Fatigue is the thing that should really be worrying the Rangers. Ogando is now at 91 innings, more than he pitched all of last year and more, in fact, than he pitched in the last two seasons combined. That makes it hard to avoid a wrinkled brow when one considers Ogando's last three starts because things definitely seem to be moving from bad to worse.
Ron Washington said Sunday that the team is still planning on using Ogando in his next scheduled start on Friday, but that there are ongoing discussions about how to move forward. You can skip turns or push him back a day here or there, but that kind of massaging has provided a mixed bag of results over the years.
What seems clear is that the Rangers need to have a backup plan, be it Tommy Hunter or Scott Feldman or someone pitching for another team, ready to go if Ogando can't pull himself out of this nosedive.