The Texas Rangers were facing a shortage of relievers after their 14-5 loss Monday, and they fixed it Tuesday by swapping out Tom Wilhelmsen for fellow right-hander Nick Martinez.
But the numbers crunch wasn’t the only reason Wilhelmsen was the choice to go to Triple A Round Rock. He has work to do after a miserable inning against the Oakland A’s extended his lousy season.
Wilhelmsen was tagged for six runs on nine hits while recording only three outs over the fourth and fifth innings. The outing left his ERA at 10.88. He entered the season with a 2.97 career ERA.
Manager Jeff Banister said that Wilhelmsen’s mechanics and velocity aren’t the issue. He’s stuck in a mental rut, and trying to do more has only made things worse.
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“You could see it last night,” Banister said. “It was, ‘I’m going to try harder. I’m going to throw harder. I’m going to step on the gas more. I’m going to make a better breaking ball.’ It just doesn’t seem to work out.
“Now, it’s let’s back off a little bit. The man’s got a tremendous arm. He’s got two breaking balls. He’s got some swing-and-miss stuff. Let’s find a way to get back to where we can execute. I believe it comes down to execution with Tom, a belief in his stuff, being convicted.”
Martinez was scheduled to start Tuesday for Triple A Round Rock and could be the Rangers’ starter Saturday in St. Louis in Yu Darvish’s spot in the rotation. Cesar Ramos pitched Tuesday and is also a starting candidate, as are Kyle Lohse and Connor Sadzeck from the minors.
Martinez last pitched Thursday, and the Rangers might be leery of sitting on him until Saturday without at least one relief appearance.
“If we don’t use him, then that’s nine days [down],” Banister said.
Rua at first
Ryan Rua started for the ninth consecutive game, a lineup decision that send the left-handed-hitting Mitch Moreland to the bench against A’s left-hander Eric Surkamp.
While the move looks like a straight platoon, it also serves as a way for Banister to continue to keep Rua active after the return of Shin-Soo Choo figures to make Rua more of a bench player again.
“Ryan’s earned the right to be in there. He’s earned the right to be in their against righties, too,” Banister said. “Pluses all around for Ryan.”
Rua was batting .291 with a .366 on-base percentage and a .480 slugging percentage entering the second of four games at Oakland Coliseum. He has also been playing well defensively and running the bases well.
He said that he will be ready to play whenever he’s called upon.
“I’m just trying to help the team any way I can,” Rua said.
Holland vs. A’s
Derek Holland is scheduled to start Wednesday against the A’s, against who he has had decent success in his career but not of late.
Holland is 5-5 with a 3.24 ERA in his career against Oakland, though 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA in his past five games, and 3-4 with a 2.95 ERA at Oakland Coliseum.
“I do enjoy pitching here,” Holland said. “It’s a very pitcher-friendly ballpark. It’s a very comfortable feeling, but at the same time I can’t worry about the stats I’ve had before. I have to focus on what’s going on tomorrow.”
Holland has been pitching well of late despite a loss Friday at Seattle that snapped a streak of four consecutive quality starts. He was pleased with his mechanics at Safeco Field despite allowing three homers in five innings.
“I need to go out there and pitch my game and make my pitches,” Holland said.
Griffin goes long
Right-hander A.J. Griffin (shoulder stiffness) allowed two runs on five hits in three-plus innings Tuesday for Double A Frisco in his second rehab start. He threw 63 pitches and could need two more starts in the minors before being considered for the Rangers’ pitching staff.
“I felt loose, I felt stronger. There was nothing really in the back of my mind and letting them go pretty good,” Griffin said. “This past week has felt a little bit more clean and fluid and easy to throw, so I feel like we’re taking huge steps in the right direction and be ready to go soon.”
Staff writer Stefan Stevenson contributed to this report.