Texas Rangers’ Starting Rotation Outlook

C.J. Wilson - Source: ESPN (AP Photo)

Most of the teams have their rosters pretty well thought out and decided on as of right now. However, with just a little over a week left of Spring Training, the Rangers still have many decisions to make – very critical ones at that.

Regardless of the number of many decisions that are left to make, the Texas Rangers look to have solid hope for defending their AL pennant and strive for yet another World Series run that hopefully they can win this time. Sure, the team doesn’t have Cliff Lee, but who says they need him in their starting rotation? The Rangers were already ahead in the AL West prior to acquiring Lee so why is it that everyone thinks the Rangers are nothing without him?

The Rangers have a strong group of pitchers without Lee and their starting rotation is going to be solid with their now Ace, C.J. Wilson starting the season on Opening Day as the starting pitcher on the mound in Arlington against the Boston Red Sox on April 1.

After the jump, you’ll see what I think the starting rotation will look like.

My thoughts on the starting rotation:

1.       C.J. Wilson

2.       Colby Lewis

3.       Tommy Hunter

4.       Derek Holland

5.       Matt Harrison

Essentially, this is the starting rotation, in my opinion. The Rangers need Feliz and Ogando in the bullpen – at least for now – possibly more than they need either one of them in the rotation. However, should the Rangers decide to place Feliz in the starting rotation, Harrison will find himself starting at AAA or remaining with the Rangers as a long reliever. As for Ogando, the Rangers announced Wednesday that he would be in the bullpen but his actual role is still unclear. If Feliz moves to starting rotation then Ogando is the best candidate for the closing role, which he is actually interested in pursuing.

As for Wilson and Lewis, they walked into Spring Training with their spots guaranteed with the other three spots open. Hunter pretty much had the third spot guaranteed if he was able to own up during camp. While he hasn’t necessarily had the best spring, he is still likely to assume the No. 3 spot. He was 13-4 last year with a 3.73 ERA. However, this spring, Hunter has pitched 8 innings in which he has allowed 15 hits and 11 runs and currently has an ERA of 8.31. While I doubt that it will happen, the Rangers could decide to give that No. 3 spot to someone else…

With a low ERA throughout camp, 24-year-old left-handed Holland has shown significant command during his spring appearances and will likely get a role in the starting rotation as he had hoped after gradually moving up through the levels in the Minor Leagues, tearing up batters. In 2010, Holland was called up for 14 different games, 10 of which were starts. He currently has a 3.21 ERA and has allowed 17 hits and six runs in 14 IP.

25-year-old Harrison has had a very notable spring – one that no one could have really seen coming due to his struggles in previous years.  Harrison has pitched a total of 13 innings allowing 9 hits and 5 runs and has a posted ERA of 3.46. He’s likely the one to assume the fifth position in the rotation unless Feliz is giving his chance as a starter, which will not ultimately be decided on until after his Thursday game start. However, there is also a strong possibility that he could make his way into the No. 3 or No. 4 rotation spots with such impressive stats.

Still, one of the final two in the starting rotation will likely find themselves elsewhere sometime into the season with Brandon Webb coming into play. Webb has been improving gradually and the Rangers say he’ll have a spot in the starting rotation when he, his arm and his pitches are ready. This probably won’t be until May and maybe even June.

Should the Rangers put Feliz in starting rotation since they believe they can find sufficient material to fill Feliz’s spot in the bullpen alongside Ogando? How do you think the starting rotation will look?

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Topics: AL West, Alexi Ogando, Brandon Webb, C. J. Wilson, Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Rangers, Rangers Starting Rotation, Texas Rangers, Tommy Hunter

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