It wasn't supposed to go down like this. Following four straight 90-win seasons, two of which provided the Texas Rangers with the first two World Series appearances in franchise history, all signs -- or most, depending on how you viewed the offseason moves by the front office -- pointed up for the 2014 team. Then the avalanche of injuries began.
First, it was Derek Holland tripping over his dog, requiring knee surgery, an injury he has yet to return from, although he is currently set to complete a rehab assignment as early as Thursday. Then came news that Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto would both miss approximately half the season with shoulder and knee injuries, respectively. The season had yet to start, and already the Rangers were without their No. 2 starter from 2013 and their projected starting second baseman and catcher.
Profar, as it turns out, will end up missing the entire season, one in which he was expected to replace Ian Kinsler. As for Soto, he played in just 10 games for Texas before being traded over the weekend to Oakland for cash considerations. In other words, the Rangers agreed that the season was so lost, and Soto almost certainly wasn't returning in 2015, that it was better to deal him away for something, even of minor value.
In response to that trade, Texas brought up Triple-A catcher Tomas Telis for a five-week audition in which he'll get the opportunity to show he deserves an opportunity to log some more major league time in 2015. He's also the 58th player that the Rangers have used on the season.
To put this all in perspective: The Rangers have used 36 pitchers and the aforementioned 58 total players. The MLB record for pitchers used is 37 set by the San Diego Padres in 2002. Three clubs hold the MLB record for total players used in a season at 59: San Diego in both 2002 and 2008, and Cleveland in 2002. Texas is one shy of the record. And it's not even September.
When rosters expand from 25 to 40 come Sept. 1, the Rangers will have a plethora of additional options to make those records a reality. Sure, you might see a hot prospect like Jorge Alfaro added to the 40-man roster, but there's not a realistic expectation that he'll see any playing time. The Rangers will instead be getting a head start on spring training auditions for 2015.
The pitchers who have fallen victim to the disabled list for Texas in 2014 are Holland, Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers, Pedro Figueroa, Joe Saunders, Joseph Ortiz and Nick Martinez.
Regarding potential September additions, Holland could make a return, barring any setbacks. From there, you could see Ortiz, who is rehabbing an offseason foot injury. Spencer Patton, the reliever acquired by Texas from Kansas City in exchange for Jason Frasor, has put up an ERA of 0.69 and FIP of 1.08 in 13 innings for Triple-A Round Rock. You can pretty much count on him getting some time in Arlington. Luke Jackson, bound for the 40-man roster over the winter, might get a look, even despite his recent struggles. That would put the Rangers at 39 pitchers on the season before even considering other possible additions like Will Lamb and Jerad Eickhoff. Corey Knebel, acquired for Joakim Soria in July, would have been a lock had a UCL strain not ended his season early.
Position players who have landed on the DL this season are Mitch Moreland, Donnie Murphy, Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jim Adduci, Profar, Engel Beltre, Soto, Shin-Soo-Choo, and Jake Smolinski. Only Beltre, Adduci, Murphy, and Soto returned from the DL. Murphy and Soto are no longer with the organization. While Beltre is battling for a potential batting title, Adduci has found himself mired in an ineffective slump.
Regarding potential September additions, Ryan Rua, who the Rangers have played exclusively in the outfield of late, has fared well in Triple-A. Given that he will be a virtual lock for the 40-man roster over the winter, it would be surprising if he doesn't see some time down the stretch, especially now that Choo has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. With the Rangers cutting ties with catchers Chris Gimenez and Soto in the past week, it's also possible that Brett Nicholas might get a quick peak of major league action.
A conservative estimate of the above would have the Rangers using at least 39 pitchers and 63 overall players, which would both set MLB records. If Texas were to decide to get creative and truly hold "open auditions" in anticipation of 2015, both records could be put into a realm in which they might stand for a very, very long time.
So next time you think your team is injury-riddled, the likes of which has never been seen, simply recall the 2014 Texas Rangers. In being a virtual lock to shatter records for players used in a season, it’s no wonder that the current 25-man roster is sitting right about where you’d expect: Last place.
Brandon Land runs the One Strike Away blog on the Rangers.