The number 5 best pitcher in the history of the Texas Rangers was Jon Matlack. Matlack joined the Rangers as part of a complex 4 team trade in December of 1977 from the team that drafted him the New York Mets. The left handed pitcher was solid in New York having won Rookie of the Year honors, and being named to the All Star team three consecutive years. His accomplishments with Texas were not as good as they were in New York but were more than average.
Matlack pitched in Texas for 6 seasons from 1978 to 1983. His record with the Rangers was 43-45 for a winning percentage of .489. He pitches in 158 games and started 119 of them. His ERA was 3.41 and his WHIP was a 1.293. His BB/9 ratio was 2.2 and his SO/9 ratio was at 4.8. The numbers would have been much better had he not entered the final phase of his career while with Texas. The first three seasons he was with the team were much better than the last three.
Elbow surgery prematurely cut his production and after the surgery he was unable to regain his former ability as shown in his statistical sharp decline. His career ended with the Rangers releasing him on October 31, 1983. He has worked with various clubs in coaching positions since he retired and is currently a member of the Houston Astros staff.
Number 4 finds the first right hander on the list the unique Dick Bosman. Bosman is the only player on our list who was an original Texas Ranger. He joined the Washington Senators in 1966. If you ever want to impress Rangers fans this man is the way to do it. He started the last game for the Senators in 1971 and started the first game for the Rangers in in 1972.
The Wisconsin native pitched 8 seasons for the franchise from 1966-1973. He went 59-64 with the club for a winning percent of .491 in 204 games pitched and 155 games started. Bosman had an ERA of 3.35 and a WHIP of 1.249 both of which were better than his career average. His BB/9 ratio was 2.5 and his K/9 ratio was 4.7 both of which were also higher than his career average.
In 1973 the Rangers traded him and Ted Ford to the Indians for Steve Dinning. While with the Indians Bosman pitched a no hitter, which was a great task but if it hadn’t been for his own throwing error to first he would have had a perfect game. After he retired in 1977 he was a coach for several teams including a stint with the Rangers from 1995-2000. He currently lives in Florida and holds a position with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Coming is at Number 3 comes the legendary Nolan Ryan. Before Ryan came to the Rangers in 1989 he was already at a point where he was a sure fire Hall of Famer. Yet getting the Pride of Alvin from the Houston Astros was a source of great pride for Arlington and all of Ranger nation. In 9 years at Houston he had a 3.13 ERA with a .530 WL% and 1866 strikeouts. When the Ryan Express came to Arlington Stadium he would be on the last leg of his career.
Ryan pitched 5 seasons for the Rangers and became immortal during that time. He pitched 129 games for the Rangers during this period. He was also 42 years old. He was 51-39 with a winning percent of .567% greater than with his time at Houston. Ryan was never considered an ace in the command department but he had a WHIP of 1.126 which was the lowest of his career. He found his command in Texas as shown by his Walks per 9 which was 3.8 and his Strikeouts per 9 which was 10.1. Both of these numbers were the best in his 4 team career. Beyond simply these stats he also had two no hitters for the Rangers and beat up an upstart youth that I won’t name.
Nolan Ryan couldn’t pitch forever although it seemed he would. His final game came against the Mariners on September 22, 1993. After baseball Ryan of course has stayed very active in the world of baseball. He owns partially or outright a number of minor league teams including the AAA team for the Rangers the Round Rock Express which was named after Ryan. Now he is the principal owner of the Texas Rangers and the public face for the ownership group. His number 34 has been retired by the Texas Rangers and his number with the Astros and Angels have also been retired. Yet in the peak of Texas Ranger lore he will forever be the first player to be voted into the Hall of Fame as a Ranger with an astounding 491 of 497 ballots.
At Number 2 was the incomparable Ferguson Jenkins. Jenkins is in the eyes of most people a Chicago Cub. But the 6’5” right hander out of Canada spent 6 years in Texas during two different tours. He still owns the Texas Ranger single season win record of 25 games that he set in 1974, a record that will be safe for some time. Jenkins joined the Rangers the first time in 1974 and 1974 and then in 1978-1981 he would not be the same caliber pitcher that he was in the first stage of his career with the Cubs.
Fergie Jenkins’ total career numbers are astounding. He had a .559 win/loss % that is broken down into 93 wins and 72 losses in 190 games started and 90 complete games. He had an ERA of 3.56% which is above his career average and a WHIP of 1.173 also above his career average. His walks per 9 were 2.0 which equaled his career number and his strike out per 9 was a 5.7 also down from his career numbers. During his time with the Rangers Jenkins recorded his 250th win. While Jenkins never had a career year in Texas what he was never changed and that is one of the best pitchers of all time.
After leaving the Rangers after the 1981 season Jenkins ultimately retired from baseball in 1983. Jenkins worked with furthering baseball in his native Canada by working with the Canadian Baseball League. He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2004. Jenkins was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 by a margin of 334 to 443 ballots.
Finally according to the requirements that this list used the best starting pitcher of all time for the Texas Rangers was Gaylord Perry. Perry was with the Rangers twice during his 22 year career in the major leagues. He is known most in baseball for the ways he attempted to change the movement on the baseball using any substance that was available. And try as they might he was never ejected for cheating until the 1983 season. He went so far as to title his autobiography The Spitter and Me.
Perry spent the third longest stretch of his career with the Rangers. In the combined two stints he started 112 games and won 48 of them while losing 43. He posted a 3.26 ERA over the 4 years and a WHIP of 1.18. His ERA was the best career ERA in the history of the Rangers; his WHIP was the 3rd best in the history of the Rangers. He had a walks/9 ratio of 2.1 and a strikeout/9 ratio of 6.3. Of the 112 games he started he completed 55 of them.
After leaving the Rangers for good he bounced between 4 more teams before ending his career in 1983. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 with 342 of 443 ballots.
There are other pitchers who just missed the cut and pitchers that a lot of people will think should be on it. Based on my calculations numbers 6 and 7 actually tied in my rankings, they are Frank Tanana and the most recent ex-Ranger C.J. Wilson. This list was built using certain criteria, I am sure that any list you make may have different choices and if you do so I would love to know.
As always, Go Rangers!