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Tony Barnette shut down for four weeks with strained lat muscle

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Tony Barnette won’t throw again until August after being shut down with a strained lat muscle

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Tony Barnette has a strained lat muscle, per the beat guys. Barnette, who was placed on the 10 day disabled list yesterday after being removed from the game on July 3 mid-inning, will apparently be shut down from throwing for the next four weeks.

The immediate result of Barnette being placed on the d.l. was the return of Chris Martin to the active roster, since Martin had been sent down to make room on the active roster for Ronald Guzman, who was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. There are a few medium-term implications of this injury as well, however.

First of all, the Rangers will be missing one of their better relievers this year for a while. Barnette has put up a 2.39 ERA and a 2.91 FIP this year for Texas, and has been a versatile weapon for Jeff Banister due to his ability to pitch more than one inning. Barnette’s absence weakens what has generally been one of the stronger areas of the team this year.

Secondly, it means that any possibility of dealing Barnette is most likely gone. Barnette won’t even throw again before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and even once he begins throwing, in a best-case scenario, it seems unlikely that Barnette is going to be ready to be back in the majors until late-August. While Barnette was unlikely to bring a significant return back, as a reliever having a nice season who is a free agent at season’s end, you would figure the Rangers would be shopping him for some sort of return. That’s not happening now.

From a roster standpoint, Texas has gone with an eight man bullpen for most of the 2018 season, and the sense when Martin was sent down (and the Rangers went to a seven man pen) was that the Rangers would likely find some sort of issue with Carlos Tocci in a few days that would justify them putting him on the disabled list again until September, which would allow the team to bring Martin back. It seems likely that at some point in the relatively near future, the Rangers will make a move to go back to a 13 man pitching staff with 8 pitchers in the pen. Matt Bush will return at some point, though that seems like a late July date, at best.

Most likely, Ricky Rodriguez will get called up and added to the bullpen in the coming days, when the Rangers opt to remove a position player from the active roster. Rodriguez started the year on the disabled list, but since returning to action has allowed just 6 runs in 21.2 innings pitched between Frisco and Round Rock, with 18 Ks against 3 walks. He appears to be the current “next man up” for a bullpen role, given his recent success, and given that Nick Gardewine has been on the minor league disabled list since late May with right forearm tightness. The Rangers could also go with Brandon Mann in the pen, or could activate Martin Perez in a few days after his rehab start today and put Austin Bibens-Dirkx in the pen, but my guess is RicRod gets the nod.