The Lonestar State Of The Pitching Staff


Here is a look at the Rangers Opening Day rotation*, and in parenthesis is how the starting staff currently reads:

1. Yu Darvish  (Derek Holland)

2. Matt Harrison  (Martin Perez)

3. Derek Holland  (Justin Grimm)

4. Alexi Ogando  (Ross Wolf)

5. Nick Tepesch (Josh Lindblom)

[* I’m aware of the fact that Matt Harrison started the first game of the season, but in no way does that signify him as the Rangers’ #1 starting pitcher.]

So, basically, that rotation on the right isn’t very good. But that’s not the point. The point is, on the left side of the aforementioned list contains Texas’s #1-4 starters, and #7 — Nick Tepesch — who became the de facto 5th starter with Colby Lewis on the shelf and, perhaps even more disappointing, the broken arm Martin Perez suffered towards the end of spring training.

The right side, with the exception of Derek Holland, features the organization’s #6 (Perez), #8 (Justin Grimm), and whichever order you’d like to place Wolf and Lindblom thereafter. It’s still the Texas Rangers, only featuring the Round Rock Express as its special (yet mostly ineffective) guest star.

A healthy Ranger rotation is capable of defeating any team in baseball over whichever-size series you prefer to envision. The current state of the starting 5? Not so much, for obvious reasons. Every now and again some Major League rotation will lose a couple horses and the joke becomes “Hey these guys are basically pitching with a Triple-A staff!”

It’s funny the 1st time you hear it, kind of, and maybe even the 2nd if you are in a good enough mood … but right now it’s not so funny because it’s actually the truth.

The Rangers are not going to be able to survive in the jungle with Ross Wolf, and Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, or Josh Lindblom. But that’s really to say they won’t have to.

Through 92 games Texas has extracted 18 starts apiece from Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, 10 from Ogando, and just 2 from Matt Harrison. That’s 48 games of a possible 92 started by the ideal Ranger rotation. That’s 52.2%. That means, if my skills at basic math haven’t completely eroded, Texas has managed to bank 44 starts from what is essentially a faceless collection of fringy big league pitchers, and, somehow, in spite of their litany of misfortunes, have willed themselves to a 53-39 record, only 3.0 games worse than the Cardinals — who possess the best record in baseball at the moment. Do you like long sentences? I like long sentences.

In short, I have a hard time — both intellectually and philisophically — being anything less than satisfied with how the 2013 season has unfolded hitherto.

(a) If you had told me before the season that the Rangers would be within striking distance of the AL West lead on July 12th, then thank you sir may I have another;

(b) If you had told me before the season that the Rangers — with 80% of its rotation on the disabled list 3 days before the All Star Break — would be 1.0 game out of 1st place, then I’d just assume you were high on something wonderful.

(c) Combined with everything, the Rangers’ offense has pretty much sucked in 2013, at least by their own standards. We’ve really yet to see any signs of life from either Elvis Andrus or David Murphy, and even some of their key bench members like Craig Gentry and Jeff Baker have been on the shelf. A depleted rotation and a so-so offense are not supposed to make a baby with a .576 winning percentage through this large of a sample.

I’m guilty of being an optimist when things are going wrong, a pessimist when things are going right, and generally miserable about something most of the time. That’s the nature of Eric Reining in a nutshell. But this isn’t a time for optimism, or pessimism, because the Rangers are right where they are supposed to be.