"It hasn't been that great, no doubt about it," Millwood said. "I still feel good. I feel like I'm right there ready to have a good game. It just hasn't happened of late."Millwood's performance of late is hardly the only factor that might be taken into consideration. It could even be a secondary factor. The other is economics. Owner Tom Hicks has the team up for sale. The Rangers had to borrow $15 million from Major League Baseball earlier this season. The club's financial situation is under tight scrutiny. It may be others besides the Rangers baseball people who decide that Millwood won't pitch beyond Friday. Ryan insisted that's not the case. "I don't believe it's anything that anybody is thinking about," Ryan said. The original contract allowed the Rangers the option of voiding the last year if Millwood didn't pitch 540 innings in 2007-09, 360 innings in 2008-09 or 180 innings in '09. He pitched 172 2/3 innings in '07 and 168 2/3 innings in '08. It has come down to this season. "I didn't think it would be any problem to get there," Millwood said. "It wasn't something I was thinking about." Taking Millwood out of the rotation would be a highly-charged move at this point of the season. He remains highly respected in the clubhouse and is still considered the veteran leader of the rotation on a team that is very much in the hunt for a playoff spot. The argument could be made that the Rangers could use the $12 million in other ways in the offseason, including re-signing outfielder Marlon Byrd or catcher Ivan Rodriguez, or pursuing other free-agent pitching. But it also may be true that the $12 million could disappear altogether from the payroll if it's not allocated to Millwood. Such a move could also trigger a grievance from the Players Association, although Millwood has the second-highest ERA since the All-Star break of the six pitchers who have made at least two starts in that stretch. He has allowed 19 walks in his past five starts. "I'd just like to see him more consistent in the strike zone," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's very uncharacteristic of him, walking so many people. If he can get more consistent in the strike zone, everything will be back to normal. Millwood can go out there and pitch without his best stuff. He just needs to pound the strike zone." Millwood just needs to pitch eight more innings and this issue will be gone for good.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.