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.