You know the season is off to a bad start when it’s not even Mardi Gras and two of your starting pitchers are already on the shelf.
Last month, Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland injured his knee in a tussle with his dog. It appears that Holland will be out until the All-Star game. Now, after barely a week in, surprise! Right-hander Matt Harrison is returning to Dallas for a medical evaluation. Harrison, who is trying to come back after two back surgeries last year, began complaining of stiffness in his lower back.
Shortly before Spring Training, the Rangers signed veteran retread Tommy Hanson to bolster the starting rotation. Now, it looks like it may be time to go shopping again. Unfortunately, the shelves are rather bare. But let’s take a look at some of the options.
Ervin Santana is generally thought of as the best free-agent starter available. Last year, the 31-year-old was 5-1 in April and May with a 2.00 ERA; the rest of the year, he was 4-9 with a 3.99 earned-run average. He has been a durable guy, having started at least 30 games in six of the last eight seasons, but he may be reaching the end of the line now.
Bottom line: If the Rangers want someone to come in and start eight or 10 games until Holland and Harrison get back, Santana may be worth a look.
Jeff Karstens was hurt all last year, but he is now said to be pain free. The former Texas Tech standout has some name recognition in these parts, and he also has good control (153 BBs in 592.1 IP).
Bottom line: The 32-year-old had a career .390 record before being hurt, so expect worse the next time he takes the ball.
Dylan Axelrod had an impressive debut in 2011, and has been pretty much a horror show once hitters figured him out (5.68 ERA and 1.6 WHIP in 2013). But he is healthy and only 28.
Bottom line: His low strikeout rate scares most teams, and should scare the Rangers as well.
Dishonorable mentions: Roy Oswalt, Jon Garland, Phil Humber.