Finally, the waiting is over and Yu Darvish is now a Texas Ranger. The news became official with about 5 minutes to spare in the deadline of 4/5 ET January the 18th. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Before I get to giddy to write anything worth reading, let’s take a look and my predicted starting rotation and what this signing(and others) mean for the organization. Also, with Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as an owner, Mike Maddux as the pitching coach, and now future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in a part time role, you can’t help but think about a Cy Young Award in the future of this organization. So, I will also include the reasons why I think these young hurlers are primed to win this prestigious award.
Colby Lewis had a very peculiar 2011 season. Reports were he pitched the entire season with a balky hip, which hopefully has time to heal before spring training. He still ended up going 14-10 with a 4.40 ERA in 200.1 IP. Colby is this young rotation’s veteran workhorse. He should easily get to another 200 inning year in 2012, which is a substantial contribution considering there will probably be 2 young starters in the rotation that will have their innings limited. His 35 home runs given up do raise some eyebrows, but still not much of a concern for me. Love the guy, but barring a bunch of magic under his sleeve, probably not in the running for the CYA.
My number two is going to be Derek Holland. I see this kid having a breakout season in 2012. Last year we got many glimpses of what could be a premier young arm pitching in the Big Leagues, but we also got flashes of a developing youngster as well. His 3.95 ERA in 198 innings wasn’t bad, but what impressed me the most was his 4 complete game shutouts, which was tied for the lead in the AL. His mastery of the Cardinals in the World Series was also extremely impressive. He is a flame-throwing lefty, regularly hitting 97 on the gun. He embraces the big league persona with ease and embraces the spotlight like the best of them. Derek has CY Young written all over that stupid moustache, and this year could be his year.
Three is Yu Darvish. Some people would automatically put him at the top of this stellar rotation, but I disagree. I believe putting him in the three spot will help relieve some of the pressure his huge posting and salary will surely put on his shoulders. I have no doubt this guy is going to be sick, like really sick. Let’s take a look at his past numbers.
2007 — 15-5 1.82 ERA
2008 — 16-4 1.88 ERA
2009 — 15-5 1.73 ERA
2010 — 12-8 1.78 ERA
2011 — 18-6 1.44 ERA
Impressed Right? Say what you will about Japanese hitters but come on, I don’t think Justin Verlander or Tim Lincecum could baffle these hitters for 5 years straight. He is a big guy that stands at 6’5″ 220 lbs, and is extremely self-conscious about his conditioning, which is good considering the extreme heat at The Ballpark. I think Darvish will blow away hitters for years and has an excellent chance of winning a CYA in at least one of his six years in Texas.
Next I have Matt Harrison, or hopefully, the second coming of Brandon Webb. His 3.39 ERA wasn’t what stood out to me, it is his roughly 50% GB ration, and his 30 double plays grounded into that did. With some work on his command and an abundance of sinkers, he could potentially be a huge plus for this rotation. If he even comes close to what we saw from another extreme groundball pitcher in 2006(Webb), he is definitely Cy Young capable.
And finally we get to the 24 year old that has slammed doors for the Rangers for the past two years. The number 1 rated Rangers pitching prospect while he was there. The 102 MPH throwing righty known as Neftali Feliz. Somewhat of a wildcard in this equation of awesomeness, but with all the potential in the world. So many questions surround him; Can he hold up in the Texas heat for a whole season? Will his overpowering stuff translate to the rotation and can he sustain it during the dog days? I won’t bring up his stats from last year because I don’t think they will translate well once he pitches more that 60-70 innings. JD and the FO see this guy as a future ace, as do I. It may take some adjustment time, but hopefully a CYA will be sitting on his mantle as well.
The Rangers will roll into 2012 with this rotation, along with Ogando and Feldman in the pen, who I’m sure will get a couple spot starts each to limit the newbies innings. With the best FO in baseball, the best coaching in baseball, a terrorizing offense, shutdown defense, a young stud rotation, and a lockdown bullpen that includes Mike Adams, Joe Nathan, and others, the Rangers are poised to do as well as, if not better than last year. Hopefully my predictions are right and after we celebrate a WS win, we will be celebrating a Cy Young Award as well. Stay thirsty my friends. Until next time, Go Rangers.