So, Nelson Cruz has been suspended. MLB decided to issue their suspensions with exactly 50 games left in the regular season. Cruz agreed not to appeal his suspension so he will be eligible as the post-season starts, assuming the Rangers make the post-season. Lately, they have been playing like a post-season team, but last night’s win against the hapless Angels doesn’t tell us much about how the team will fare without Cruz in the lineup.
The players seem to be behind Cruz, even though his decision not to appeal may ultimately hurt the team. He could have appealed and continued playing through the appeal. However, he chose not to, and has now left his team without a significant bat in the lineup. Regardless, after the game last night, Elvis Andrus said, “We gave this one to Nelson” showing his support for the suspended slugger (alliteration comes at no extra charge).
One glaring problem with the loss of Cruz is the defensive rotation in the outfield. Cruz is by no means a great defensive player, although his arm can be lethal sometimes, but David Murphy made Cruz look like a gold glove winner last night. It looks like Wash is going to have to go with some lineup that includes Leonys Martin in RF, Craig Gentry in CF, and then Murphy or Engel Beltre in LF. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
So, while the Rangers lose Nelson Cruz, they expect to get some other players back soon. Matt Harrison has pitched two rehab starts in the minors and will pitch again Friday at AAA Round Rock. Neftali Feliz made his second rehab start Monday at the rookie ball level. Colby Lewis looks to be the one closest to being put back on the Major League club. He has one more rehab outing to go. He will pitch Thursday for Round Rock. If the club feels he is ready after that, they will need to make room in the rotation for him by either moving Alexi Ogando to the bullpen or perhaps sending Martin Perez to AAA. That’s going to be a tough move given how well Perez pitched against the Angels last night. It’s probably the best I’ve seen him pitch, and I have to say a rotation of Darvish, Holland, Garza, Harrison, and Perez looks pretty good moving forward.