While there might be some panic in Texas right now for the way the Rangers ended the regular season, it could end up being the best thing that happened to them.
Yes, they will have to play the one-game Wild Card Playoff, but they are doing it at home against Baltimore, a team the Rangers are better than. If they win the Wild Card Game, then they start the Division Series against New York with two home games.
The one big area of concern for the Rangers right now is in the starting rotation. Their pitching has been a mess for most of the second half, but specifically the rotation.
We all know that Yu Darvish will be starting the Wild Card Game on Friday. After him, there are a whole lot of question marks.
Darvish has been masterful since the start of September. Some of that can be attributed to facing weaker lineups due to expanded rosters, but he did have much better command of his pitches. In 36.2 innings, he allowed 20 hits and seven walks and had 39 strikeouts while holding the opposition to a .333 OPS.
The stuff is there for Darvish to be a No. 1 starter. The performance is starting to catch up to all the hype that surrounded him last offseason and just in the nick of time.
The most likely candidate to be the No. 2 starter for the Rangers is Matt Harrison. If you think wins are a telling sign of pitcher performance, he did have 18 of them in the regular season.
Harrison strikes me as a better regular-season pitcher than postseason performer. He lacks power stuff, relying on command and off-speed stuff. He doesn't miss bats—just 133 strikeouts in 213.1 innings—and the six home runs he allowed in September was the most of any month this season.
Ryan Dempster was the big acquisition at the trade deadline, but he just got lit up in Oakland and has found the adjustment to the American League to be quite difficult. In 69 innings since the start of August, he has allowed 39 earned runs and 10 home runs.
Derek Holland has the best stuff of anyone not named Darvish in the rotation, but his command and control is that of a back-of-the-rotation starter. He looks more like a long reliever at this stage, though it is important to remember that Jeff Suppan pitched the best three weeks of his life in October 2006 en route to winning the World Series MVP.
Unless someone from this group is able to step up and support Darvish in the rotation, the Rangers are not going to be able to make it a three-peat as American League Champions and have a shot to capture the World Series.