Texas Rangers’ Pitching: Will It Be Enough in 2016?
The Texas Rangers’ pitching staff looks to be the key to rebounding in the upcoming 2016 campaign.
The Texas Rangers starting pitching wasn’t the model of consistency fans had hoped for last year . The shuffling that occurred to the starting rotation seemed like a black jack dealer that had been sipping on a little too much of the house whiskey. Fortunately, Texas had a stellar bullpen in which they could confidently ask to shoulder the weight of close games down the stretch.
The shuffling that occurred to the starting rotation seemed like a black jack dealer that had been sipping on a little too much of the house whiskey.
This year the 2016 Texas Rangers will look to have a little more consistency out of their starting rotation. With Two aces, a couple up-and-coming arms that have something to prove, and a familiar bullpen it’s safe to believe that yes, the Rangers
have enough pitching to rebound in 2016.
Texas ended last year with a vintage John Daniels trade. Acquiring Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman for an over-the-hump Matt Harrison and a few prospect chips is a move that brought JD out of the dog-house of many Rangers fans. Was it sad to see Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams leave? Sure. But what the Rangers gained in return ultimately put them in position to win the pennant, while also giving them a better chance to win again this upcoming year.
By adding Cole Hamels, the Rangers have brought a solid ace on-board to start the 2016 season. This will undoubtedly take pressure off of Yu Darvish as he returns to the team from injury in mid-May. Once Yu starts pitching like the Yu of old, a 3-time all-star and runner up for the 2014 Cy Young award, the Texas Rangers will have a 1-2 punch matched by only a handful of teams in the league. That will make it awful hard to believe that they will go on any sort of long-term losing streak. After all, an ace’s main responsibility is to stop losing streaks and to build on winning streaks. By having two aces on board the starting rotation, whenever one falters in this responsibility the other will be waiting in the wing to make up for it.
Something to Prove
The 3-4-5 and 6 spots in the rotation are where things get a little more questionable. (The sixth starter is important because it will actually be the fifth starter until Yu returns.) Currently, Texas is looking at a mixture of Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, and Chi-Chi Gonzalez to hold down the back end of the rotation. Last year, Colby Lewis was the model of consistency the starting rotation sorely needed. His ERA was a little on the high side, 4.66, but ultimately he gave the team everything they needed to win on a nightly basis – tallying a career high 17 wins along the way. He also pitched the most innings of his career, 204.2, which tells me that he’s feeling good and healthy heading into 2016. Rangers fans can, reluctantly, give Derek Holland a free pass last year on the basis that he was returning from injury all year. Something just didn’t seem quite right watching him pitch and its safe to believe that he’ll be back to his 2013 self this up coming year.
Ultimately though, what’s going to make this rotation stand out is the youngsters – Martin Perez and Chi Chi Gonzalez. Neither one has quite lived up to the hype they had coming into the league, but the jury’s still out on whether they can be the all-star starters everyone thought they would be. Perez has a good excuse for his lack of productivity the last couple of years. Tommy John surgery is a hell of a procedure to return from, and it has definitely messed with his progression. Its safe to assume, however, that a strong off-season can not only return him to his rookie 2013 self that won 10 games and posted a respectable 3.62 ERA, but also help him develop into the ace he was projected to be.
Chi-Chi, on the other hand, didn’t have a bad year last year but didn’t do much to impress either. He just didn’t seem completely developed. His 10.7% strikeout percentage shows that he just didn’t consistently have the stuff to fool batters at the Major League level yet. Still, he was able to post a decent enough 3.90 ERA in the 10 games he started. Taking that into consideration, these two 24 year olds can build off of their rookie years and look at 2016 as a chance to solidify their place among respectable AL starters.
Shawn Tolleson, Keone Kela, Sam Freeman, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson. All key members of the 2015 Rangers bullpen that was such a force during the final month of the season. They are also all returning members to the 2016 Rangers bullpen.
These familiar faces will look to build off of the final 30-day run in which they played major roles in posting a league leading 2.36 ERA. During that final 30-day stretch, the Texas bullpen also had a league leading 87.6% LOB (according to FanGraphs.com), meaning that 87.6% of the runners on base while the Rangers bullpen was pitching, were left stranded on base.
Ya, they were beast and the best ones are coming back. A young confident bullpen coming directly off such a hot streak gives the Rangers a good look if any of the starters mentioned above can’t hold their own. They’ve shown they can be elite for a 30-day period, imagine how good they’ll look when they stretch that 30-days into a season long effort.
With two aces, some familiar faces, and a couple of youngsters with something to prove I think its safe to say the Texas Rangers pitching is in pretty good shape to help the team rebound heading into 2016.
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