Do the Texas Rangers Need to Add a Starting Pitcher?
By Jason Burke
With May drawing to a close, the Texas Rangers are a game under .500 and sit 6.5 games behind the Houston Astros for first place in the AL West. Considering the early injuries that the team has been dealing with, losing Jurickson Profar and Yu Darvish for the season and seeing Derek Holland accumulate just one inning pitched thus far this season, the Rangers have performed admirably in 2015. Granted they’re on a hot streak, but if they can carry the momentum they’ve gathered into the new month Texas could be looking to add pieces at the deadline.
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The need for Texas could be some help in their rotation, not only to help them stay competitive the rest of the season, but also to help them advance in the playoffs should they make it. Outside of Nick Martinez there isn’t really a “shutdown” pitcher on the roster. With Derek Holland expected back around August first, he could be a real shot in the arm to a rotation that has a cumulative 4.42 ERA this season. Assuming Holland comes back healthy and performs well, that gives the Rangers two decent options in the rotation, with Yovani Gallardo being a nice third or fourth starter. He will flirt with a quality start most times out, but has given up multiple runs in all but one start this season. With the offensive potential the team has, this will fly just fine.
Until yesterday Colby Lewis was looking like his old self, holding a 3.49 ERA entering play on Wednesday. He limped out carrying a 4.70 after Cleveland hung nine earned on him in 2 2/3 innings.
That leaves us with three starters that we can work with and a couple that we’re uncertain of. While I’ve been on the Chi Chi Gonzalez bandwagon since this spring, he hasn’t been necessarily dominant this season in Triple-A, posting a 4.15 ERA to go along with a 1.50 WHIP. In his last three starts with Round Rock he’s been solid, combining to throw 16 1/3 innings, allowing just four runs and striking out thirteen. If this streak continues Gonzalez could see himself in the rotation around the All-Star break, if not sooner. It depends on how quickly Jon Daniels wants to move him up.
If none of these options is whetting your appetite, then the Texas Rangers could always look outside of the organization at the deadline. The problem being that at the moment, a lot of the viable trade options reside in the National League. While this would by no means be a deal breaker, there have been instances where a NL pitcher comes over to the AL and struggles, with American League teams averaging 201 runs per team compared to the NL’s 191. It’s a small difference, but one that can be magnified with a middle-of-the-road starter, which is all that I’d hope the Rangers would go after. They don’t necessarily need a Johnny Cueto type guy, and acquiring someone of that caliber would cost a decent sum.
As of right now there is one pitcher that could become available in the American League, and that is Scott Kazmir of the A’s. Oakland also has a proven setup man in Tyler Clippard who could also become trade bait. Swiping both of these players from the A’s could significantly improve the Rangers’ chances of making a playoff push and may not be as costly as one would imagine.
With all of that said, what do you think the team should do? Stick with in-house options in the rotation and let it ride, or try to make some improvements and take a shot?