Bartolo Colon is out of the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation, and Adrian Sampson is in, Jeff Banister announced today (per the beat guys on Twitter).
This is not a particularly surprising announcement. Colon, 45, has been both a nice story and a useful rotation placeholder for the Rangers this year, as they fell out of the race early and struggled to find pitchers who could eat innings for them in the rotation. While there was even talk of Colon being an All Star at one point in the first half, he’s come crashing back down to earth in the second half of the season — opponents are slashing .331/.363/.631 against him since the Break, and he has an 8.12 ERA in 7 starts during that time.
On the season, Colon has given the Rangers 0.7 bWAR in 144.1 IP, with a 5.55 ERA and a 5.31 FIP, which is probably as much as you could have reasonably hoped for when the Rangers signed him to a minor league deal this spring. He’s done his job, but with his second half fade and the expanded rosters meaning more pitchers up, it makes sense to get a look at some other options.
That other option replacing Colon in the rotation is Adrian Sampson. The Rangers claimed Sampson on waivers from the Mariners in the 2016-17 offseason, then outrighted him, and he spent most of 2017 rehabbing. In 2018, the 26 year old spent the year in Round Rock, with a 3.77 ERA in 126.1 IP, with 85 Ks against 24 walks. I’m not terribly optimistic about him being a meaningful part of the next good Rangers team, but as a guy who, I believe, has at least one option remaining after this season, he could be a viable up-and-down depth guy, filling the role in 2019 that the Rangers had hoped Ronald Herrera or Clayton Blackburn would fill this year.
So Sampson will get a chance to get a few starts, and let the coaching staff get a look at him and weigh in on whether he’s worth keeping on the 40 man roster this offseason. He joins Mike Minor, Yohander Mendez, Ariel Jurado and Yovani Gallardo in the rotation for the time being, though Minor could be shut down after another start or two, due to his increased innings load.