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Friday newsletter time: Potential road map for Rangers if Eovaldi lands on IL

(Texas Rangers/Bailey Orr)

 

A baseball team knows entering a season that members of its starting rotation are going to land on the injured list.

It’s not an if, but a when.

The 2011 Rangers are one of the rare exceptions of a team not having one of its five Opening Day rotation members hit the IL.

The 2024 Rangers already aren’t one of the exceptions. Left-hander Cody Bradford (rib stress fracture) is on the IL, and he could be joined as soon as today by right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.

Eovaldi exited Thursday’s game after 5 1/3 innings with tightness in his right groin. He was at 92 pitches, so maybe it’s a different story had he been at 72, but the Rangers didn’t want him going any further.

An MRI exam has been scheduled, and the results should be known this afternoon before the team opens a three-game series at Kansas City.

Judging by what was said Thursday, the Rangers don’t think this is a serious injury, but the sense is that Eovaldi will go on the IL just to make sure something worse doesn’t happen.

His next start is scheduled for Tuesday at Oakland. If the Rangers were to honor the off day Thursday before the series at Colorado, Eovaldi’s spot would come up again May 13 to open a three-game home series against the Guardians.

By the time the rotation would cycle through a third time May 19, Eovaldi could be ready to go.

The Rangers can survive two missed starts with a combination of prospects Owen White and Jack Leiter. Both could pitch at Oakland Coliseum, with White getting the Tuesday start and Leiter working Wednesday in the doubleheader. The Thursday off day would allow Leiter time to get ready for the May 13 start on four days’ rest.

With minor-league starters pitching only once a week, though, maybe White gets the May 13 start because he would be closer to a normal schedule.

Of course, Eovaldi has to actually go on the IL. It seems like he will out of an abundance of caution.

Seager’s slump

Corey Seager usually isn’t at his locker during the media’s clubhouse time. This isn’t a shot at him. That’s just the way the shortstop goes about his daily routine.

He was at his locker Thursday after going 0 for 4 to extend his slump to 3 for 41, so the beat writers seized the moment.

Seager knows he’s slumping. He said he’s working overtime to get out of it.

In typical Seager fashion, he didn’t provide a whole lot of details. He’s always polite, but not always chatty when the subject is him. He was resolute in saying that he is not injured and that the sports hernia that cost him almost all of spring training is not a factor.

We talked about Kansas City barbecue more than we did his swing mechanics.

He has stung some balls during the 3-for-41, but they’re still outs and still dragging down any already inconsistent offense. The bottom line is Seager will continue to bat second and will eventually work his way out of his season-opening funk.

Latz’s appearance

The pitcher who replaced Eovaldi was left-hander Jacob Latz, who finished off the sixth and recorded two outs in the seventh before giving way to David Robertson.

Latz will follow up that appearance with an appearance today on the Rangers Today Baseball Podcast.

The bullpen has a 0.58 ERA the past 10 games, and Latz has been right in the middle of the unit’s surge to finish out April. He has a 2.87 ERA, Robertson has a 1.08 ERA and Kirby Yates, who warmed until the Rangers padded their lead to 6-0, still hasn’t allowed a run.

Cole Winn also hasn’t allowed a run, Josh Sborz is back and Jose Leclerc is trending the right way. Jonathan Hernandez and Jose Urena are groundball machines.

Bullpens change throughout the course of the season, often because of usage issues. Pitchers with minor-league options, like Latz and Winn, often fall victim to the numbers crunch and are sent to Triple A Round Rock for a fresh arm.

The Rangers are expected to have some of their current starters displaced to the bullpen once all the injured starters begin returning to the active roster. That will displace some of the current relievers.

But that’s all in theory. Roster building always seems to work itself out, with injuries or trades, and it’s far too early for anyone to start packing their bags.

 

Card of the Week

In honor of T.R.’s Memoirs this week, an ode to Pete Incaviglia in the latest Boys of Arlington (Part 2 comes out today), I went searching for an Incaviglia card.

The 1986 Topps stood out because that was the first wax box I ever opened. His rookie card was in the traded set.

Nope. I found a forgotten gold mine, which also accurately portrays the Inky hype T.R. described.

The Card of the Week is the 1987 Fleer Youthful Power, featuring Incaviglia and freaking Jose Canseco.

Incaviglia was a prodigious power hitter at Oklahoma State. He never went to the minor leagues, debuting in 1986.

Canseco made his MLB debut in 1985 but was still a rookie in 1986. He edged Wally Joyner for American League Rookie of the Year.

A Rangers player received a third-place vote in balloting that year, but it was Ruben Sierra.

Incaviglia hit 30 home runs in 1986. Canseco hit 33. Sierra even didn’t play the full season in 1986 and hit 16 homers. Maybe the voter who cast the third-place vote was confused.

Doggy video!

I feel you, bro. Enjoy.

 

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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