Remember: There’s no crying in baseball.
No tanking, either.
Cole Hamels, co-ace of the Texas Rangers pitching staff, was diagnosed Wednesday with a strained oblique muscle and is expected to miss two months.
For a Rangers team that has been spinning its wheels in an increasingly deeper ditch since the season began, this is distressing news. Regardless of what you may have thought about Hamels’ sporadic lapses in command, the 33-year-old left-hander has started five times this season and allowed only 11 earned runs and 25 hits.
When Hamels starts, most of the time the Rangers win. He has a 24-6 record and a 3.38 earned run average since joining the team at the trade deadline, July 31, 2015.
Hamels has started 49 times since coming to Texas, and the Rangers are 36-13 in those starts.
He can’t be replaced. But he’s expected to be out two months, not five.
General manager Jon Daniels is going to have to resort to his already limited options.
Starting pitching, for the most part, has been the team’s saving grace through the first four-plus weeks. The hitting has been dreadful. So Daniels has to replace one of the team’s key early performers, not some guy with a .155 batting average.
Anthony Bass was re-summoned to the big club, but that was to fill a bullpen spot after Alex Claudio pitched four-plus innings Tuesday.
For now, the rotation likely is going to be Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Andrew Cashner, A.J. Griffin and Nick Martinez. Griffin is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday. Martinez will pitch in Houston on Wednesday night.
If he needs more starter options, Daniels can call up Cleburne product Dillon Gee or knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa from Triple-A Round Rock. Neither, frankly, has pitched all that well in his respective five starts.
But, again, though oblique strains and sprains can be lingering and troublesome, Hamels doesn’t appear to have sustained a season-ending injury. Avoid all half-witted suggestions, therefore, that the Rangers’ season ended Wednesday.
Go back to July 31, 2015. Until the Rangers acquired Hamels from the Phillies that day, their starting rotation was Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Perez, Martinez and Wandy Rodriguez, with occasional starts from Derek Holland and Chi Chi Gonzalez.
That rotation wasn’t any better than manager Jeff Banister will be calling upon this time. The 2015 Rangers were 50-52, third in the American League West and eight games behind the Astros before trading for Hamels, and went 38-22 after that.
If the doctors are right, Hamels will be pitching again by early July.
Colby Lewis is loved and missed, but it would take at least 5-6 weeks to get him into season shape, so what would be the point?
One thing that is likely is that the Rangers may ramp up Tyson Ross’ recovery schedule. Back spasms set his conservative rehab routine back, but he threw a bullpen session Tuesday and really only needs three or four minor league starts. Keep an eye on Ross’ progress.
If the lineup doesn’t start hitting, however, it won’t matter even if they could start Clayton Kershaw five days in a row. The Rangers are third-to-last in the major leagues with a .221 team batting average.
They will miss Hamels. But it’s for two months, not five.
Stop the crying.