Rangers covet frontline starter before Deadline

Holland, Lewis making progress toward returns from disabled list

Rangers covet frontline starter before Deadline

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, looking for an impact starting pitcher through the trade market, have White Sox left-hander Chris Sale and Rays right-hander Chris Archer at the top of their wish list before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The price tag remains hefty on both as their clubs don't appear motivated to trade their No. 1 starters. Other names remain in play -- including Rays righty Jake Odorizzi and lefty Matt Moore, and Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

With Andrew Cashner having been traded to the Marlins on Friday, there is still a feeling the Rays will do something before Monday's Deadline at 3 p.m. CT. There are still multiple teams beyond the Rangers trying to upgrade their rotations and interested in the Rays pitchers. Texas also had two scouts watching Vince Velasquez pitch for the Phillies on Friday night.

Velasquez calm with trade rumors swirling

But there is another factor that could be in play for the Rangers. Derek Holland and Colby Lewis say they are feeling great and expect to be back by the end of August. The question is if the Rangers are willing to hold out that long and try to get by with Lucas Harrell and A.J. Griffin at the back end of the rotation.

Harrell was acquired from the Braves earlier this week and the Rangers officially announced he will start on Sunday. Right now represents the club's best effort to upgrade the rotation.

"It makes me feel real good," Harrell said. "I'm just going to go out there every five days and give the team a chance to win, that's what they brought me in for. Just do my best and hopefully win a lot of ballgames."

Harrell was 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts for the Braves after being recalled from Triple-A. He threw six scoreless innings in his last start against the Twins, a team that beat the Rangers five out of seven times just before the All-Star break.

"Our message is just do what you've been doing in Atlanta," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Pitch a good baseball game. Use the sinker and get some outs. Manage the baseball game and let us score some runs. If he pitches like he did in Atlanta, we'll be OK."

Friday was a significant day for Holland and Lewis, who are currently on the 60-day disabled list.

Holland threw 42 pitches in the bullpen on Friday and said it went well. He is scheduled to throw batting practice on Tuesday in Baltimore. Holland is sidelined with inflammation in his left shoulder, but he said the discomfort is completely gone.

"Yeah, I feel good," Holland said. "I threw 42 pitches like it was nothing. My [velocity] came out really good ... all my pitches feel sharp."

Lewis, out because of a strained muscle in the back of his right shoulder, is throwing on flat ground from 90 feet and had another MRI on Friday. Lewis said everything continues to look good and the plan is to stretch him to 120 feet of long toss. By the end of next week, Lewis could be back on a mound.

Holland is eligible to come off the disabled list on Aug. 20, while Lewis is eligible on Aug. 21. Holland appears farther ahead as Friday was his third bullpen session. Lewis feels he'll be back somewhere between Aug. 21 and the beginning of September.

"The way I feel today, that's for sure," Lewis said after Friday's throwing session. "My arm had a lot of life ... free and easy. Not a lot of stress."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.