Today's Mother's Day matchup at Tropicana Field features two teams that share an unfortunate commonality.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers share the distinct misfortune of being the only two teams in Major League Baseball to have more than ten players on the disabled list. Each team has been dealt blows to their starting rotation as they have been forced to employ stopgaps in order to ease the pain until they return from the shelf.
Much has been written about the Rays' disabled list despondency on this website. So, as to not give the loyal Rays fans a reason to pop open a bottle of Jack in the middle of Mother's Day afternoon, there will be no further mention of the team's injury woes in this post. Bad enough news is probably coming Monday. Instead, the focus will be on the Texas Rangers and their injury problems.
After all, misery loves company.
- After missing the last two months of the 2014 season because of elbow inflammation, Yu Darvish was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training. Darvish underwent successful Tommy John surgery in mid-March but will miss the rest of the 2015 season as well as some of the 2016 season.
- After missing most of the 2014 season due to a knee injury, Derek Holland recorded only three outs in his first start of the 2015 season before being pulled from the game. Diagnosed with a subscapularis strain in his pitching shoulder, Holland will be out until at least mid-June.
For Wandy Rodriguez, the Rangers' miseries have been his fortune. The injuries to the starting pitchers have given the 36-year-old southpaw the opportunity to extend his major league career for at least one more year.
Rodriguez broke into the league with the Houston Astros in 2005. After three seasons of uninspiring pitching, Rodriguez began to find his groove. From 2008-2013, Rodriguez pitched nearly 1000 innings for the Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates, posting a 3.48 ERA and striking out 7.7 batters per nine innings.
After a forearm injury towards the end of the 2013 season, and minimal playing time in 2014, the Atlanta Braves signed him during the past offseason. Rodriguez pitched well for the Braves in Spring Training, striking out 23 batters in 23 innings of work and posting a 3.13 ERA.
Despite his efforts, the Braves cut Rodriguez from their roster three days before Opening Day, opting to go with Eric Stults as their fifth starter instead. Three days later the Rangers picked up Rodriguez, signing him to a minor league deal and assigning him to Triple-A to begin the season. In two starts for the Round Rock Express, Rodriguez allowed two earned runs and struck out ten batters in seven innings. His performance combined with an ever-thinning rotation at the big league level prompted his call up on April 23rd.
What we know on Wandy
In three starts for the Rangers, Rodriguez has pitched 17.1 innings, compiling a 3.12 ERA and striking out 16 batters. In his last start against his former team, the Houston Astros, Rodriguez pitched eight innings, allowing only one earned run on three hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts.
In those three starts, Rodriguez's arsenal consisted of an 89-mph four seam fastball and sinker, an 82-mph change up, and a 75-mph curveball. He throws his curveball (34.14%) just as often as his fastball (35.17%) and he'll throw it on any count, but especially if he's ahead on the batter. A near-term tendency to note is that when Rodriguez is ahead on a left-handed hitter, he throws the curveball 67% of time, and when he's ahead on right-handed hitters he throws it 49% of the time.
After taking two of three from the Rangers, the Rays look to clinch their sixth series victory of the season with a win today. Jake Odorizzi was scratched from his Saturday start due to flu-like symptoms, but today he gets the start against Rodriguez.
For the 10th consecutive season, Major League Baseball will celebrate Mother's Day by going pink. Players from around the league will swing pink bats, wear pink cleats, and use other pink gear that will later be auctioned off in support of breast cancer research. Louisville Slugger and Major League Baseball launched the Going to Bat Against Cancer initiative in 2006, and since its inception it has raised well over a million dollars.
The Tampa Bay Rays appear to be active participants in this years' efforts.