Express adjusting to major roster changes

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An Express player sneaks a peek of the opposing pitcher as he throws a pitch towards home plate.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Dealing with major shake-ups to its starting rotation, the Round Rock Express (39-51) lost its last three consecutive series. Round Rock will have to wait until after the All-Star break to pursue its first series win of the month.

Even though the team didn’t win the series, pitcher Ben Snyder’s five shutout innings in his second spot start of the season helped end Round Rock’s five-game losing skid. Snyder earned his second win of the season, allowing four hits while walking two batters in Round Rock’s victory over Albuquerque.

As defending American South division champions, the Express has had to adjust to the Texas Rangers’ sudden need for minor league pitchers. After going the first month of the season without making a move, the Rangers have needed to make numerous call-ups due to injuries.

Nearly half of the Express pitching rotation from the start of the season has been called up to the major leagues. Round Rock’s top two starting pitchers are no longer with the club, as Neil Ramirez was sent down in the farm system and Martin Perez is currently in the Rangers rotation. Michael Kirkman, Tanner Scheppers and Yoshinori Tateyama are also currently on the Rangers’ active roster.

The Dell Diamond has also served as a warm-up stage for a couple of major league regulars over the past month. Roy Oswalt, the newest Ranger, and fan favorite Derek Holland made a few starts for the Express on their way back to the big leagues.

Left-hander Chad Bell has been the beneficiary of one of Round Rock’s rotation spots left open by all of the injuries and call-ups. Starting the year in single-A, Bell was eager to join the Express and grateful to be one step closer to the major leagues.

“It’s been a crazy year so far. I’ve been throwing really well and working hard. It goes to show you never know when you’ll get your opportunity,” Bell said.

So far, Bell has made the most of his opportunity by winning two of his first three triple-A starts. He has only allowed five earned runs in 17 innings pitched and has 12 strikeouts.

As the Rangers’ major league roster gets healthy again, the Express will have the opportunity to stabilize its roster coming out of the All-Star break. Currently in last place of the American South division and 12 games behind the leader, the Express will need a strong second half push in order to defend its division championship.