Yesterday the Texas Rangers took the biggest injury blow yet as it was announced that Colby Lewis was done for the season. Lewis has a torn flexor tendon and will require season ending surgery with a recovery time of 12 months. It is always easy to say that an injury could not have come at a worse time, but that is the truth with this one.
Losing Lewis for the season is one of the biggest blows the rotation could take. Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish were All-Stars this season, but Lewis has turned into a true gamer for the Rangers. He threw 200 innings in both 2010 and 2011 and was on pace for another 200 inning season this year before landing on the disabled list. He is far from the same pitcher that came up with the Rangers in 2002, he is much better. He is older, wiser, has better command and understands the game better.
While Lewis can still be frustrating to watch at times, most of the time he has been a breath of fresh air. He has learned to pound the strike zone and force hitters to beat him. Even on the days when he truly struggles, you can still expect to get six innings out of him. The Rangers do not have near enough pitchers who can eat innings without their best stuff, but Colby is one of the few.
This is a huge setback for a ballplayer that has already had a difficult road. He missed most of the 2004 season and all of 2005 after having rotator cuff surgery and then played in Japan during 2008 and 2009. It was in Japan that his career was revived and he turned into the pitcher he is today. When he left Japan and signed with the Rangers he received a nice two year contract with a third-year option. It was not huge, but considering his history, it was a nice payday for someone returning from Japan.
That contract however was nothing compared to what he was set to receive on the open market during the offseason. The Rangers would have most likely offered him a one year deal at the end of the season at somewhere around $12 million. That would have ensured them draft pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere and a pitcher who can eat innings like Colby can would have most likely received a three-year deal somewhere. He was finally set for that big payday, but now it will not come anytime soon.
There was a decent chance that this was going to be Lewis' last year in Texas, but now that is not necessarily the case. He has a long road to recovery ahead and is going to have to once again prove himself to big league teams. He will likely end up signing a minor league deal at some point and then will hopefully be able to prove himself and eventually go back out on the market. At that point, he will be a few years older and not quite as desirable to teams as he is now. In all honesty, he could be heading for a career of one-year deals.
Now that he will not be a hot commodity on the open market, the most logical situation is for him to stay in Texas for the time being. He has experienced success here, individually and as a team and it should be the most comfortable environment for him to work himself back. Who knows how long that would be, but it seems that the likelihood of him being with the Rangers next season is very strong.
For the Rangers, the worst part of this will not be felt until October. Yes, the rotation is in shambles and having Colby back as an integral part that eats six or seven innings every time out would have been great, but the pain comes when he is not there for the ALDS, ALCS and World Series. Who knows if the Rangers can get back there, but we now know that they will not have a starting pitcher with a 4-1 record with a 2.34 ERA in eight postseason outings. Colby is without a doubt the Rangers big game pitcher and now they do not have him.
The Rangers have already been strongly involved in the trade market for a possible starting pitcher and while the need for one has been debatable, not having Colby down the stretch makes it a bigger need, but not having him in October makes it a necessity. The Rangers need that guy to go to when everything is on the line and like it or not, Colby was it.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.
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- Colby Lewis