Another key aspect of the second half for the Texas Rangers is how the injured pitchers return and what kind of boost that gives the club.
Derek Holland returned just before the All-Star break and gets things going tonight in Seattle. But there are others poised to join him:
* Alexi Ogando threw 15 pitches (10 of them strikes) in a perfect inning in Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday that included two strikeouts. He'll throw two innings Saturday and, if all goes well, would probably join the club Tuesday in Oakland. That would make an already solid bullpen even stronger, adding in one of the more versatile relief pieces in the league.
* Colby Lewis is feeling good and getting ready and is slated to start fifth in the rotation after the All-Star break. Because of the club's schedule, that's not actually the fifth day after the break. The Rangers get Monday off. So Lewis will go Wednesday in Oakland.
* Neftali Feliz will be stretched out as a starter coming back from elbow inflammation. He's slated to pitch two innings Sunday and would built up from there. The idea is the club wants to be sure it has options in the rotation and if there's no spot for Feliz, they could always switch him to the bullpen. But for now, he'll go in with the mentality that he's starting. He'll need some starts, so Feliz will trail behind the other pitchers a bit for now.
* Koji Uehara threw to live hitters Thursday in Arlington and should pitch Saturday in Round Rock. He'll be ready soon to rejoin the bullpen.
* Mark Lowe is throwing in Seattle and is beginning his march back toward the pen.
Put all of that together and it's difficult to see how these returning pitchers can't be a boost to the club in the second half. And depending on how they do after they return could impact what the Rangers do at the trade deadline. But as the second half starts, the Rangers appear ready to get better in the rotation. That's got to be a reassuring thing for manager Ron Washington.