Texas Rangers: Projecting the Rangers' 5-Man Rotation for 2013
Both pitchers had stellar seasons in 2012, and, as a result, both players have made a strong case to toe the rubber on Opening Day in 2013.
The biggest loss is Neftali Feliz, who moved into the rotation last season after two All-Star-caliber seasons as the closer. Feliz is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and will likely make his return to the Rangers bullpen sometime in the middle of the season.
Washington will have some interesting decisions on how to set up his starting staff. Let's take a look at the Rangers' projected rotation, starting with the No. 5 starter.
5. Martin Perez
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Martin Perez was called up a few times last season, making six starts for the Rangers—as well as pitching out of the bullpen—but ultimately did not perform well.
He gave up 47 hits in his 38 innings pitched and also walked 15 batters. It was not the debut the Rangers had hoped for, but his high-prospect status heading into 2012 leads me to believe that the Rangers will be patient with the young lefty.
Oftentimes, left-handed starters take some time to develop and may not see their full potential until their mid- to late-20s.
Perez will be the lead candidate in the spring, and it will be his job to lose.
4. Alexi Ogando
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"He's a strike thrower and he wants to do it, so we're going to give him that opportunity again."
This was the comment Rangers general manager Jon Daniels had regarding Alexi Ogando moving back into the starting rotation.
Ogando started for the Rangers in 2011 and went 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA. But he was moved to the bullpen in 2012 to make room for Yu Darvish in the rotation.
Ogando flourished in the pen, pitching to a 3.27 ERA, a WHIP of 1.00 and averaging a strikeout an inning.
He is a welcomed addition back into the Rangers' rotation, but leaves a huge void in the bullpen.
3. Derek Holland
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Derek Holland struggled mightily this past season. His numbers skyrocketed, as his ERA closed in on 5.00. His 4.67 ERA was a far cry from the 3.95 he posted in 2011. He still won 12 games, but that was mostly due to the high-powered Rangers lineup.
Holland, 26, is just one year removed from winning 16 games. He has the talent to win the majors, but he may not have the offensive support he has had the past few seasons.
The Rangers need him to pitch more like he did in 2011 for Texas to continue to contend each season.
2. Matt Harrison
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Matt Harrison put it all together in 2012, with career highs in wins (18) and strikeouts (133). He also pitched to career lows with a 3.29 ERA and WHIP of 1.26.
Harrison is a 27-year-old lefty who has catapulted himself to the top of the Rangers; rotation. The Rangers will lean on him heavily to help lead them back to the top of their division.
Texas has taken a hit on the offensive side of things, but its pitching appears to be full of young, promising arms.
1. Yu Darvish
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Yu Darvish, who will be 26 years old on Opening Day, has the best pure stuff on the Rangers' staff.
He won 16 games and struck out 221 batters with an ERA of 3.90 during his first season in the majors.
Darvish showed why he is the ace of the Rangers' staff when he went seven innings or more in six consecutive starts from the middle of August to the middle of September. He struck out eight or more batters in five of the six starts, including two 10-strikeout performances in back-to-back games.
Darvish was a workhorse, going seven innings or more in 14 of his 29 starts. He showed that he has the potential to shoulder the load of a staff ace.