Tuesday Newsletter time: A.J. Alexy isn't even Texas Rangers' best pitching prospect, but his first two MLB starts made history
The right-hander tossed six more scoreless innings against the Angels and again allowed only one hit.
Question: Who was first pitcher in MLB history, dating to 1893, to open his career with consecutive outings of at least five scoreless innings and only one hit allowed?
A. Christy Mathewson
B. Bob Gibson
C. Randy Johnson
D. A.J. Alexy
Nope, not the Hall of Famers.
It’s Alexy, the Texas Rangers right-hander who tossed six scoreless innings Monday while allowing a second-inning single and two walks in a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
That performance was an upgrade over his MLB debut Aug. 30, when he limited the Colorado Rockies to one hit in five scoreless.
So, for those who are a little slow in the math department, Alexy has tossed 11 scoreless innings and allowed two hits.
That’ll do. That’ll do.
Here’s the kicker: He isn’t considered the Rangers’ best pitching prospect. Or second-best or seventh-best.
“We’re going to have some competition coming into next year’s camp,” manager Chris Woodward said. “A lot of these guys are earning jobs. It just speaks volume about the organization itself and how we’re developing our pitchers.”
Jack Leiter, the Rangers’ first-round pick this year, is considered the Rangers’ No. 1 prospect even though he won’t pitch this season. Cole Winn, the 2018 first-rounder, is the No. 3 prospect.
The prospect group doesn’t include Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn and Kolby Allard, who have built resumes for the rotation next season. Or Spencer Howard, the prize of the Kyle Gibson trade.
Then, there’s Glenn Otto, Ronny Henriquez, Ricky Vanasco, Cole Ragans, Owen White, TK Roby, Cody Bradford and Avery Weems. Baseball America has Alexy as the Rangers’ 30th prospect, behind each of those just mentioned, but perhaps he will climb past them based on what he did in the minors trhis season (1.66 ERA) and what he’s done in the past week.
He struck out seven Monday, including Shohei Ohtani twice. The second instance capped Alexy’s final inning, in which he struck out the side. He also struck out David Fletcher, one of the best contact hitters in baseball.
In his debut, Alexy struck out All-Stars Trevor Story (twice) and Charlie Blackmon.
“There’s still a lot of stuff I can work on, but it’s definitely a good start,” Alexy said, downplaying his history-making performances. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
However, it hasn’t earned him a rotation spot for 2022. It hasn’t even earned him a spot on the pitching staff. It seems highly doubtful that Alexy will return to Triple A Round Rock this season, but he might open there next season depending on how the offseason and spring training shake out.
But that doesn’t mean fans can’t be excited. At the very least next season Alexy will be part of a talented pool of minor-league arms that serve as rotation depth.
“If I was a fan, I’d be really excited about what the near future holds,” Woodward said.
He’s excited as the Rangers’ manager. He wants to see how all the pitching prospects would fair in the majors.
“It gets everybody excited, everybody on the staff,” Woodward said. “It’s been fun to bring these guys up.”
Charlie Culberson and Jonah Heim returned last week from the COVID-related injured list, and Howard and Dunning will be returning in the coming days.
That leaves infielder Brock Holt and right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who have started the process of getting back in a baseball groove.
The Rangers, though, have brought up players to replace all of those affected by COVID, and the call-ups are performing well. Alexy is one of them.
The Rangers also hope to see infielder Andy Ibanez (hamstring) and outfielder Willie Calhoun (broken arm) again this season. Calhoun is on the 60-day IL, and the Rangers will have to remove someone from the 40-man roster to activate him.
And what if the Rangers want to see someone else from the minors, like, oh, Josh Jung? He would need a 40-man roster spot.
Difficult decisions could be ahead.
“For a team that’s, obviously, not in contention, there’s a lot of issues as far as roster spots and guys coming back,” Woodward said. “For any of these guys to get back on, they have to rehab and show they’re ready. In the case of some of the younger guys, they have to earn their way back on.”
Woodward said last month that Foltynewicz would likely not return to the rotation because there wouldn’t be enough time to build him back up. Do the Rangers need him to work in relief, especially with so few games remaining? No.
The Rangers have enough infielders to not need Holt, or Culberson for that matter, if Ibanez is able to return. And the call-ups all seem to be doing something positive.
“It’s going to be tough to move some of these guys to get some of those other guys back,” Woodward said.
Often overlooked when people think about Gary Patterson, who is frequently captured giving his players the business on the sideline, is that the TCU football coach frequently takes mercy on overmatched Horned Frogs opponents.
He doesn’t run up the score, perhaps at the expense of style points that catch the eye of poll voters. There’s an extensive history of this, including a new one Saturday night in TCU’s season-opener against Duquense.
Frankly, I didn’t know Duquense had a football team. The Dukes shouldn’t have been on the field with the Frogs, outmatched them in athletic ability and size en route to a 45-3 victory.
The first half saw the Dukes lose several players to injury, including their starting quarterback, and at halftime they asked TCU to consider playing 12-minute quarters instead of 15-minute quarters.
Patterson obliged, which probably kept at least one touchdown off the final tally and cost backups six minutes of evaluation time. He also held starting quarterback Max Duggan out of the second half after he had his way, minus one interception, with the Duquense defense.
TCU also paid Duquense handsomely to come to Amon G. Carter Stadium for physical beatdown. Here’s hoping all the Dukes’ non-revenue sports enjoy their new uniforms while the injured football players recover.
It could have been worse, but Patterson again showed his merciful side.
Me when with the wife, followed by me when out with the boys. Enjoy. See you Wednesday.