Rangers left-hander Drew Smyly turned in his latest disastrous performance Sunday during a 9-8 loss to the Athletics, who clobbered him for five earned runs on six hits (including a pair of home runs) and two walks in three innings. Smyly now owns an 8.40 ERA/7.66 FIP in 45 innings this year, and his already tenuous grip on a rotation spot is getting weaker.
Given that Smyly suffered an ankle sprain last month and hasn’t fully healed, the Rangers are at least considering placing him on the 10-day injured list, manager Chris Woodward said (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). Regardless, the playoff-contending Rangers could acquire a starter, which would enable them to eject Smyly from their rotation. The club may be seeking “external possibilities,” Grant writes, but general manager Jon Daniels doesn’t seem optimistic about landing anyone so far in advance of the July 31 trade deadline.
“We don’t have a lot of options. There’s not a ton of pitching readily available,” Daniels said.
As things stand, lefty prospect Joe Palumbo – who made a shaky MLB debut in a win over Oakland this past Saturday – remains their most likely Smyly replacement. Meanwhile, fellow Double-A starter Jonathan Hernandez is not yet on the Rangers’ radar for a promotion, reports Grant, who also names Triple-A righty Seth Maness as a potential call-up. Maness, 30, is a longtime reliever who has never made a start in 252 major league appearances, but he’s working exclusively out of the rotation in the minors and averaging just under six innings per appearance this season. Promoting Maness would require the Rangers to add him to their 40-man roster, Grant notes.
If the Rangers do drop Smyly in favor of Palumbo or Maness, it would still be hard to have much confidence in the back of their rotation. Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Adrian Sampson and Ariel Jurado have all impressed (in a limited sample size in the latter’s case), though the Rangers are likely going to need another competent starter in order to maintain a playoff spot. While the Rangers didn’t enter 2019 looking like postseason contenders, they’re 35-30 with a plus-33 run differential and hold a two-game lead on the AL’s final wild-card spot. That could lead Daniels to buy going up to the deadline, when Matthew Boyd, Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez might be among available starters. However, whether Texas will like its chances enough to make a significant acquisition along those lines is anyone’s guess.