Tommy Hunter is well on his way to returning from a groin injury he suffered in his final spring training start, and when he returns in the coming weeks, it's going to change things in Arlington.
The question will be, how do they change? Does Hunter get an automatic spot in the rotation? A rotation that has, for the most part, been effective.
You would have to think so. Even though Hunter struggled mightily in the postseason last year, and was even worse in spring training before getting injured, he does have skins on the wall. Even though he missed the first couple of months of the regular season last year, he still managed 13 wins, including a perfect home mark in the regular season. He'll definitely get the chance to reclaim a rotation gig, and plus, he's more of a starter than a late reliever, and he's too good to be a long man.
So who loses his rotation spot? It's not C.J. Wilson or Colby Lewis. So that leaves either Derek Holland, Matt Harrison or Alexi Ogando.
Holland was good on Monday in Oakland and has had one really poor start this year with an ERA of 4.66 and a 3-1 record. Harrison started the season on fire in his first three starts, but has been terrible in his last three and seen his ERA climb from the low 1s to the mid 4s. Ogando has been, perhaps, the most impressive starter of the entire rotation in his first season as a starting pitcher with a 3-0 record and a 2.30 record which is skewed by one start in New York when he gave up 6 runs in a no-decision.
Holland seems to be safe, which brings us to Harrison and Ogando. The obvious, quick answer would be to move Harrison to the bullpen and keep Ogando in the rotation. But just imagine a back end of the bullpen with Ogando giving the ball to Feliz in the 9th after Feliz returns on Friday. That'd be one of the best back-ends in baseball, much like last year after Ogando was called up.
Harrison has made a career of being inconsistent, and while that seemed to be a thing of the past early in the year, it's obviously rearing its ugly head right now. Ogando has yet to face a team twice, and will tonight against a hot Mariners team. It'll be telling to see what the Mariners do against him with an established scouting report, even though the M's "boast" one of the worst offenses in the league.
As tough as it might be to move Ogando back to the pen, it would basically mean you only needed seven innings out of the rest of your pitchers — starters and relievers combined. At this point, it might be the best thing to do for this season.