Tommy Hanson has started to make a good case for himself this spring. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be the 4th and 5th starters for the Texas Rangers?

News came down this morning that the Braves have signed Ervin Santana to a one-year deal.  As you may recall, I was pretty excited at the possibility of the Texas Rangers signing Santana to help plug one of the gaps in our rotation.

BOO to you, Braves!  Not really…the Rangers front office never seemed nearly as interested in Santana as I did; so seeing Santana land elsewhere was less than a shock. But, now that we know that the Rangers are almost certainly going to fill-out the rotation in-house, let’s examine who could fill those roles.

First things first:  Matt Harrison.  Things are looking up for Harrison.  It only took him 11 pitches to get out of his one prescribed inning in yesterday’s B game against the Royals.  A mid-April return is starting to look likely.  (No that is not a jinx!)

Of course, that doesn’t fill our still vacant 4 and 5 spots in the rotation.  As we’ve mentioned many times before, Wash has been auditioning several guys to potentially fill these two spots, including: Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando, Tommy Hanson, Nick Tepesch, Robbie Ross, and Joe Saunders who was recently added to the mix.  And that’s not even mentioning the relievers (Michael Kirkman and Tanner Scheppers) who are being stretched out “just in case”.

So how are the contenders faring so far?  Before we start, I just want to say that this is an insane amount of guys to “try out”.  Unless one or two of these guys REALLY stands out soon, this might feel unsettled even after decisions have been made.  But, I do understand looking at all of your possibilities and inciting a little competitive fire.  Plus, I’ll walk the line with any guy that pays a $200 fine with  pennies.

The New Guys

Tommy Hanson – Hanson’s current spring ERA is 3.24 in 8.1IP.  He’s also had 6 strike outs in those 8+innings so that’s definitely not a bad start.  His most recent game action was yesterday in which he threw 4 innings and gave up 1 run.  Wash has said he’s taking it slow with Hanson, so we will see if his decent start changes that any.  I don’t see how yesterday’s outing can’t give him a leg up on making the team; as a long reliever if nothing else.

Joe Saunders – The Rangers picked up Saunders one week ago today off the free agent market.  He made his debut yesterday against the White Sox and was less than impressive, giving up 4 runs (3 of them earned) in 3IP.  Of course, Saunders got a late jump on spring, so he may be working out some kinks.  Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have much time to do so.

The Youngsters

Robbie Ross – 24-year old Ross will be entering his 3rd season for your Texas Rangers; where he has spent all of his time as a reliever.  Ross has a 3.86 ERA in just 4.2IP.  I’m sure Wash will need to see at least a little more evidence before moving Ross out of the bullpen.  Many, including myself, have wondered if moving Ross is worth it given his success as a reliever.  But Wash has made it clear that the best rotation will come out of camp, regardless of how that affects the bullpen.

Nick Tepesch – You gotta love the Nick Tepesch ears.

MLB: Texas Rangers-Photo Day - Nick Tepesch

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

25-year old Tepesch has had a rough spring so far.  He’s given up 10 hits in just 5IP and his ERA is currently 5.40.  TEN HITS.  It’s too soon to tell, but I think he may just need a little more time to develop; especially after being called up a little too early in his minor league career to be a band-aid in the wake of last year’s injury epidemic.

The Perpetual #5

Alexi Ogando – Alexi Ogando is 30-years old!  Can you believe that?  Somewhere between being a young flame thrower and being the Rangers constant fill-in-due-to-injury/sometimes 5th starter, the guy turned 30.  This spring, Ogando has an ERA of 3.60 in 5IP.  He’s got a couple of strike outs, but he’s also given up 9 hits.  That’s a lot of hits for 5IP.  We’ve seen Ogando in the rotation before, what did you think of that?  I personally was not a fan.  But he’s been okay this spring.

The Crafty Veteran

Colby Lewis – I think we’re all rooting for Colby Lewis, aren’t we?  Lewis is coming off of hip resurfacing surgery – having many thinking he should be playing bocce ball instead of baseball.  But for all of his bad luck and injuries, this veteran is full of heart.  Which is probably why his second outing of the spring last Sunday went MUCH better than his first.  Currently, Lewis is carrying an ERA of 6.75 in 2.2IP.  Knowing that 2 of those innings were scoreless ones in his second outing, tells you just how bad that first one was.  Colby says he’s feeling good, and I for one, am rooting for him to come back strong and make the rotation.

So now that you’ve heard the Rangers Spring Rotation Mix Tape, what do you think?  Honestly, if I heard all of these names, I’d say that the rotation will be Yu Darvish, Harrison, Martin Perez, Lewis, and Ogando.  But that’s just because that sounds like the same old Rangers to me.  And not necessarily in a bad way.

But now that I’ve looked at all of the evidence thus far, I’m leaning toward Hanson making the rotation with the last spot still up for grabs.  Needless to say, there are a couple of weeks left of camp.  And A LOT can happen in a couple of weeks.  Good outings.  Bad outings.  And I won’t even dare say the “I” word.  (rhymes with gingeries)

Have a good one Rangers fans.  Ogando is on the hill at 3PM against the hated Angels.  Let’s see if he can remix the mix tape.

Tags: Alexi Ogando Colby Lewis Robbie Ross Texas Rangers Tommy Hanson

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