The 2012-2013 off season maybe the most important in Rangers’ history for pitching, especially the starting rotation. There are several starters back for the upcoming season, but not enough on the current roster to fill out the staff. With the addition of Yu Darvish and the emergence of Matt Harrison, the Rangers have a bright outlook. However, with the inconsistency of Derek Holland and the injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, the rotation is in the air as of right now. The Rangers will probably be in play for Zack Greinke and if so it completely changes things, if not, there are holes to fill. So here’s the outlook, heading into the off season:
The Scenario: The Ranger front office would like to go into the season with either Darvish being the #1 starter, or landing a top flight free agent pitcher like Greinke. However, since no top flight free agent, aside from Nolan, has ever come here, I would not expect that to happen. RBIA is a destination for free agent hitters, but pitchers don’t have a lot of success in Arlington. I would love to be proven wrong by a free agent, but I’m not holding my breath on this one.
The Plan: Yu Darvish or Zack Greinke. Darvish became nails down the stretch for the Rangers, and he’ll be the opening day pitcher for Texas in Houston next April. He is signed here for 4 more years, so the Rangers have nothing to worry about in the case of Yu.....injuries aside. (Knock on wood)
The Scenario: A healthy Colby Lewis would be the perfect scenario here. However, with his arm surgery, he won’t back until August or so. A #1 starter in free agency would also allow Wash and Mike Maddox to move Yu down a spot and strengthen the rotation. Several options are open to Texas so this one could change very quickly this off season.
The Plan: Yu Darvish (with a Greinke signing) or Matt Harrison. I fully expect this spot to occupied by Harrison, who had a tremendous year for the Rangers. He proved last year that he can have success in the big leagues, and he did it consistently. I have no problem with Matt in the #2 spot for this team. He is good most of the time and can be lights out on occasion. He had an all-star year, and with his maturity on the mound, I think we’ll see that for a few more years from him.
The Scenario: Matt Harrison or Derek Holland. Again Harry being moved down depends on Greinke being here. Holland has been inconsistent over his career so far, but there is plenty of time for him to figure it out. He is great on some nights, and either subpar or terrible on others. I believe the Rangers would be more comfortable with Holland in the #4 spot, but they may not have a choice.
The Plan: Derek Holland. It’s time for Holland to prove himself and start being consistent. He doesn’t need to have “Game 4” stuff all of the time, but he can’t continue to be distracted by base runners and his command needs to improve to be in the #3 spot. He has the stuff, but the mental part of the game needs to grow into his ability.
The Scenario: Derek Holland or Alexi Ogando. As previously mentioned, the #4 spot would be a perfect fit for Holland, but again, Texas may not have a choice. Ogando is a dicey proposition as well. He is a two pitch pitcher who has worked on a change up, and he’ll need to continue to do that. I’m not sold on Alexi in the #4 spot, however, if he can be stretched out and not tire too early in the season, he could be a valuable piece to the rotation. This is the spot where JD needs to find a long reliever/spot starter to give Ogando extra rest on occasion, if this is how they go. In this spot, there are a number of variables that could change the outlook here.
The Plan: Personally, I think it will be Ogando in the 4 hole. He has enough gas and a good enough slider to get by for awhile, but his development on the change up needs to continue and improve. The Maddux brothers are here for a reason, and the benefit of Greg could be used to help Alexi develop that third pitch. Let’s not forget, Ogando was an all-star in 2010, as a starter.
The Scenario: Alexi Ogando, a free agent, Robbie Ross or Martin Perez. I personally think that Perez needs another year in the minors, but without signing someone, there are not a lot of options here. Ross was so valuable in the pen, he may stay there with the holes that need to be filled out there as well. However, he could be a nice addition to the rotation if prepped for it.Oswalt was a disaster and Feldman’s contract will be bought out, so they will not be back. Of the free agent starters on the market, only 6 are under 30 years old. Greinke (28), Edwin Jackson (29), Francisco Liriano (29), Brandon McCarthy (29) , Anibal Sanchez (29) and Carlos Villanueva (29) (Not counting Feldman). The chances of signing one of these guys is pretty slim, due to what the market will command, so signing a veteran to fill in here would be the ideal. Someone with experience and that the Rangers can get on the cheap to fill in until Colby gets back healthy. There isn’t much available that is exciting, but some names are Dan Haren, Paul Maholm and Jeremy Guthrie. These guys have some value, but probably not what JD and Thad are looking for.
The Plan: The youth movement continues, and the Rangers roll out Martin Perez. It’s the 5th spot in the rotation, so ideally you are looking for 10 wins and a .500 record. If Perez can bring that to the club, then that would be great. Guthrie, Maholm, et. al would probably bring the same to the table. It is a 3rd lefty in the rotation, but with his stuff, Martin can be good enough to earn it. Should be an exciting off season, and if no starters are brought in via free agency or trade, the spring training battle should be great as well.