With starting pitcher Alexi Ogando expected to miss at least one start with an inflamed nerve in his shoulder, the Rangers' "Plan A," according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, is to acquire a replacement. Fraley mentions two veterans, Astros lefty Erik Bedard and Nationals right-hander Dan Haren, as two options who have already cleared waivers.
Although the team's 'Plan B' has already been revealed—Travis Blackley is tentatively scheduled to have his contract purchased from the minors and will start in Ogando's spot on Tuesday—exploring deals for Bedard and Haren still remains a possibility. Ogando, who also missed a month-and-a-half earlier in the season due to shoulder inflammation, is no guarantee to return anytime soon and veterans Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis have each been ruled out for the season.
So if it's between Bedard, who'd be a rather inexpensive acquisition both in prospect return and salary—he's only due a few hundred thousand dollars—and Haren, who would be more costly in both regards (he's still due approximately $3.5 million) but has been pitching very well as of late and has plenty of experience in the AL West (180 career starts between the A's and Angels), who is the better fit?
The 34-year-old Bedard has a 3.84 ERA over his last 17 starts with 46 walks and 86 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. Against the division rival A's and Angels, who the Rangers will face a combined 13 times in September, Bedard has pitched very well against one (7 IP, ER, 5 H, BB, 2 K vs the Angels) and poorly against the other (10 IP, 13 ER, 13 H, 13 BB, 9 K vs the A's) this season.
Bedard has also had strong performances against Texas' next three opponents (after the current series against Houston), the White Sox, Mariners and Twins, but has been roughed up by the Rays and Royals, two teams the Rangers will face late in the season. In seven career starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Bedard has a 5.82 ERA.
As for Haren, he has been terrific since returning in early July from a disabled list stint. The 32-year-old has a 2.25 ERA over his last 44 innings with only 30 hits allowed, 10 walks and 44 strikeouts to lower his overall ERA from 6.15 to 4.79. He's allowed more than two earned runs in just one of his last seven starts.
Haren has only faced two of the Rangers' remaining opponents this season and didn't fare particularly well in either game (5 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, BB, 6 K vs Pirates on 7/22; 5 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 0 BB, 5 K vs White Sox on 4/11). In seven career starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, he has a 5.05 ERA. Still, he's been one of the more effective starters in baseball since the game against Pittsburgh last month.
While Haren is probably a close-to-unanimous pick if given the choice as to who would start a playoff game for the team, Texas already has a strong top three in their rotation—Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Garza—and Ogando would be the fourth starter, if necessary and if he was healthy. The objective of an August acquisition would be to help the team hold off the A's for the division title.
The question is whether the Rangers, who have a half-game lead over the A's in the AL West coming into today, should spend $3.5 million and give up a pretty good prospect—I'd guess it would be in the range of top 10-15 in the Rangers' system—for seven or eight starts out of Haren. Or is Bedard, at a much lower cost, enough to help them capture the division title?