Unbelievably, it’s only getting worse for the Texas Rangers.
In the ninth inning of the team’s fourth consecutive loss on Wednesday night, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus suffered a fracture of his right elbow after the two-time All-Star was struck with a fastball from hard-throwing Los Angeles Angels reliever Keynan Middleton. The former Rookie of the Year Award finalist will head to the disabled list for the first time in his 10-year big league career.
Since cracking the team roster in 2009, Andrus has played at least 145 games every season. Not only has he long been the pinnacle of health, he has been increasingly productive — in the batter’s box and in the infield dirt — since his 2009 debut. Last year was a career year for the 29-year-old right-hander, as he hit .297/.337/.471 with 20 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and 88 RBIs.
Andrus had been continuing that progression this season, hitting .327 with two home runs, five RBIs, and eight walks. Instead, Andrus will join Rougned Odor, Delino DeShields, Tim Lincecum, and Doug Fister on a DL loaded with talent as the Rangers crawl through an awful first two weeks.The horrific start to the 2018 Texas Rangers season was summarized on Wednesday, as Elvis Andrus went down with an elbow injury.Click To Tweet
It only encapsulates what has been a miserable beginning to the 2018 season that the Rangers are now without Andrus, perhaps their best player. Texas sits at 4-10, last place in a considerably tough American League West division, ranking 23rd in the majors in team batting average (.230), 22nd in runs (44), and 20th in extra base hits (32) through 14 games.
Their pitching staff has not fared any better, coming in at 25th in team ERA (4.94), yielding the fifth-most walks (53), and posting MLB’s worst overall opponent’s batting average (.285). Where the Rangers go from here is only up to them, but a team that looked before the season like potential trade deadline sellers looks even moreso in mid-April.
The only issue? The players Texas could sell at the deadline aren’t all that valuable. Their biggest trade chips are 39-year-old Adrian Beltre and 34-year-old Cole Hamels, but each player comes with concerns that will drive the trade return down. Beltre’s injury history and Hamels’ salary are two worrisome thoughts.
Beltre is 39 years old and played just 94 games last season due to three different injuries; Hamels is owed over $40 million from now until his 2020 free agency. Any return the Rangers get from these two chips would be minimal and underwhelming. I guess it’s all too fitting that there is no clear next step in Arlington, and instead, it’s nothing but hopelessness and anguish for the franchise and its fanbase.
The elbow injury to Andrus, which will sideline the career 29-WAR shortstop, is the cherry on top of the suffering in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. It completely sums up an April from hell, which begins a season that could rival their 67-95 2014 campaign. It’s every ghastly emotion the Rangers and their fans have been forced to feel over the first two weeks, cobbled into one rough, 97 MPH, two-on, two-out, 2-0, two-seam fastball.
And it’s only going to get worse.