Rangers Pitching, Post Spring Traning

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Scott Feldman t...

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Much of the spring training coverage for the Rangers has focused on all their options at starting pitcher. Now that the opening day rotation is set we should probably examine if they are really as deep as we think.

I think the biggest concern for this rotation is will it eat up enough innings as it did last year. If you add up all the pitchers (including the bullpen), 477 of the 1,435 innings were thrown by pitchers no longer on the club. Clearly the biggest loss was Millwood’s 198 innings.  Kevin may not have ever lived up to the top-tier ace that was expected when he came to Texas, but last year only 36 players threw more innings. Only 19 of them did it with a better ERA.  He also had 3 complete games; only 6 pitchers had more.  Halladay, Grienke, Beckett, Cain, Linecum, Weaver.  So how will the Ranger’s replace those innings?

Rangers Starting Rotation

Innings Innings
Chone Projected My Projected
Scott Feldman 164 195
Rich Harden 131 150
CJ Wilson 61* 130
Colby Lewis 37
Matt Harrison 110 110

Can Feldman strike out almost twice as many batters as he walks for 190 innings over 34 games again? Sure, at some point you have to just believe in this guy.  The problem here is that we are hoping he replaces his own production from last year; he won’t help cover for Millwoods loss.

Rich Harden’s past numbers look like this: in 2009 141 innings, 2008 148 innings, 2004 189 innings.  How can we assume anything better than 150 innings and a 4 ERA.  Let’s give him that and be generous (and thrilled) if he gets close.

CJ Wilson threw more than 70 innings in relief last year.  His numbers and results were very good, but if you watched the games you were on the edge waiting for it to come unraveled on each pitch.  Hopefully we get 130 innings of the same this year.  The concerns about a relief pitcher more than doubling his work load in one year is well documented and doesn’t need to be rehashed here.

Colby Lewis. Really? 37 innings and 1 game started for Oakland last year doesn’t scream, mark him down as a guaranteed starter”, but the Rangers have just that from the beginning.

Matt Harrison is a solid bottom of the rotation pitcher.  I think both Chone and I are being optimistic for him to see 110 innings.  This is where the depth comes in.

The Rangers don’t have a true number one any more but they have a bunch of solid number 4’s.  AAA Oklahoma has a starting rotation that includes Tommy Hunter (when he’s healthy), Derek Holland and Brandon McCarthy.  Every one of these guys will be beating the door down to get back on the Major League club.  They all have proven they have the talent to be there.  I would imagine as soon as Hunter shows he’s healthy he will get called up.  McCarthy I think has to show he can stay healthy over a period of time, but he could be a great tool to help fill the gap if Wilson struggles late in the year. Holland is crazy talented and just needs to learn to ‘pitch’ a little; frankly I think he can do that just as well in the big leagues.

The bullpen will have more to deal with this year.  I think any bullpen with Feliz, Francisco and O’Day will be fine.

For the top 8 starting pitchers we could be as deep as anyone.  The problem is we are counting on 3 players to do more than they ever have in the top 4 with Wilson, Harden and Lewis.  The safe bet is that the starting 5 will look very different in August than it does now.

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