1st Half Grades: The Pitching Staff
By Eric Reining
With the 50% of the schedule in the bank, this article focuses on how each Ranger has performed. Part Two deals with my 1st half grades for the pitchers, but here is Part One if you missed it.
My grading scale for judging these players is nonexistent; it’s as subjective as how I feel at this exact moment. The only caveat I’ll add deals with expectations; conflated with how well they have actually performed, each grade is relative to what was expected of the player.
Yu Darvish: B
If his command is on-point, he’s the best pitcher in baseball. Yu is unrivaled in his assortment of pitches, especially considering the quality of each pitch. Something that’s undone a few of Darvish’s starts in 2013 has been the home run ball, as he’s already allowed as many this year (14) than he did in all of his 2012 campaign.
Derek Holland: A+
Can we stop arguing about his merit as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher? I’m certainly not going to be one of those people who praises him only after a dominant 2-0 shutout at Yankee Stadium; I’m simply acknowledging his transformation from a pitcher many wrote off after an average 2012 season, into what he’s become now, as a true #2 starting pitcher to slate behind Yu Darvish.
We can talk about inconsistency, and we can discuss the validity of this season’s sample size, but let’s just allow this image to resinate for one second:
Alexi Ogando: C+
He hasn’t been terribly healthy. He hasn’t been terribly effective when he has been healthy, but he hasn’t been ineffective, either. Assuming he returns from the disabled list, I’d prefer him to be used out of the bullpen — where his stuff plays up.
Justin Grimm: B-
Amazingly, Grimm has already thrown 77.2 innings in 2013, which is about 70.0 more than I would have predicted before the season began. His xFIP (4.10) is significantly lower than his actual ERA (5.56), which suggests he’s been better than his results have indicated. Regardless, the emergency work he’s put into Texas’s 1st half will be looked at as invaluable if this team manages to reach the postseason.
Nick Tepesch: B-
Ditto the last sentence I wrote about Justin Grimm.
Joe Nathan: B
The peripherals are uglier than the end product, but he’s only blown one save. Once he blows his 2nd and 3rd (which happens to closers, you know), Joe will be the perfect candidate to get cherry picked by the fan base/media as a huge issue.
Again, the peripherals stink. One simply cannot keep up a 1-point-something ERA with such a low strikeout rate (5.98/9). Earth and Tanner Scheppers will run parallel, again, at some point, but thus far he has been the best high-leverage arm on staff.
Robbie Ross: A
Before the year he seemed like a surefire candidate to regress from his brilliant 2.22 ERA season of 2012. I was wrong. His K rate is substantially higher in 2013 (9.16/9) than it was in ’12 (6.51/9), which is the primary reason why his current 1.88 ERA has a strong chance of holding firm in the 2nd half.
Jason Frasor: B-
The perception of him is quite a bit different than how he’s actually pitched. Designed to get same-handed hitters out, Frasor has actually been drastically better against lefties in 2013 — though the sample is also substantially smaller.
Neal Cotts: A
Can’t do much better than he’s been in 22.2 innings on the bump; his K:BB ratio is a staunch 26:8 at the moment. I imagine he will be a key member of the team through September, and hopefully the postseason as well.
It’s hard to fathom how a guy with such good stuff generates such poor results. Before hitting the DL, Kirkman’s ERA was 8.18 in 22.0 IP. I hope his cancer fades away so he can try to establish himself in a new home.
Ross Wolf: B+