Opening Day Countdown: Matt Harrison, Robbie Ross, And Rounding Out A Roster

Today Ron Washington said Matt Harrison will be his Opening Day starter.

This is a mild surprise, at least if we’re designating the Opening Day pitcher as the team’s best pitcher, which Harrison isn’t. That would be Yu Darvish. I tend to think being the Rangers’ Opening Day starter is symbolic more than anything else, as Colby Lewis (who was coming off back-to-back impressive regular and post-seasons) was given the honor in 2012. They are recognizing Harrison for the dues he paid in 2011 and 2012. And for that, I’m happy for him.

Game two of the Houston series — which will actually take place after an off day — will feature the Ranger ace, Yu Darvish. I hate to get too wishful with my intuitions, but I am anticipating a Cy Young-caliber season from Darvish, and a good chunk of me thinks he could be one of the 2-3 best pitchers in baseball. He really is that good.

In the Things That We Expected To Happen That Finally Happened department, Robbie Ross will not be the Rangers’ 5th starter to begin 2013. He instead will go back to the bullpen where he generated quite a bit of success last year, and hopefully continue to hone his change up.

The bullpen will “definitely” feature Ross (according to the link), Michael Kirkman, Jason Frasor and Joe Nathan. There are three spots up for grabs, so with Ross and Kirkman in the fold, it’s unlikely the Rangers will carry a third lefty. That’s bad news for LHP’s Joe Ortiz and Nate Robertson (yes, that Nate Robertson), and excellent news for guys like Tanner Scheppers, Ben Rowen, and Coty Woods.

As for the bench, Jeff Baker has a spot. You can chalk that up to a lock. There, he will join catcher Geovany Soto and outfielder Craig Gentry, who are also automatics. It’s highly unlikely the Rangers carry Jurickson Profar on the big league team, especially with the opportunity to set his arbitration clock back another year, leaving him under control for 6 years after 2013. Oh … and we have a pretty damn good shortstop who still hasn’t been traded.

The roster is coming to shape, which is good since, you know, we only have 10 days before the start of the regular season. I’ve held pretty steady in my 87-win projection this year, but I am certainly going into the season excited, and cautiously optimistic that I’m on the low end in the bar I’m setting.


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  • Clayton Shearman

    I honestly like Coty Woods to stick in the bullpen and Joe Ortiz deserves a chance there too IMO. I think Harrison is the “Opening Day starter” because he is left handed… so the rotation is LHP, RHP, LHP, RHP…

    Always loved that song btw.

    • Eric Reining

      It is a dope song. Glad you enjoy it.

      I agree with you on Woods and disagree on Ortiz, for the simple reason we don’t need three lefties in the bullpen.

      I think Harrison is the “Opening Day starter” because he is left handed… so the rotation is LHP, RHP, LHP, RHP…

      Analytically speaking, the order by which you set your rotation is irrelevant. Teams will still field a platoon specifically for whoever starts the game, righty or lefty. Along the same lines, fans are already critiquing the batting order, because it goes R-R-S-R-R-L-L-L-L. The truth is, it’s not that big of a deal. Moreland and Murphy have Baker to platoon with, Pierzynski has Soto, and Martin has Gentry.

      I mean, the last three options to be the 5th starter — Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Randy Wells — are all right-handed. That would throw off the balance of the supposed “L-R-L-R” rotation, inevitably leaving you with back-to-back righties. So, according to that logic, it would make sense to start Darvish Opening Day to keep with a R-L-R-L-R equilibrium (although, whichever way you cut it, you’re going to have consecutive RHP’s).

      As you can tell, I would have preferred Darvish starting on the 31st, because the 1st is an off day, and we could have used him again in the following Angels’ series. My math could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he will miss the Angels by starting Game 2 of the Houston series.

      I’m rambling, but you see my point.

      • Clayton Shearman

        I gotcha

  • Tyler Owens

    Harrison is in that opening day spot because the Rangers have a history of going with their team leading, veteran, “hardest working,” if you will, starter on opening day.

    • Eric Reining

      Not sure if I agree with that. Remember, Ryan Drese, R.A. Dickey and Chan Ho Park have pitched on Opening Day.

      That’s why I referred to it as a “symbol,” because it’s not really justifiable in any other light. Yu Darvish should universally be considered the best pitcher on the Rangers, because, well, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball.

  • MarshaHart

    Good article Eric~

    • Eric Reining

      Thank you for reading.

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