Revamping the starting rotation was the top priority for general manager Jon Daniels this winter. He’s added three new arms to the starting rotation, but is it enough to compete in the AL West?
The Texas Rangers began the off-season with just two starting pitchers under control for 2018. Veteran lefty Cole Hamels and lefty Martin Perez were the only two returning members of the Rangers 2017 rotation.
It appears Hamels is going to be tasked with being the leader and ace of the 2018 rotation. The 33-year-old is a four-time All-Star, but struggled to stay healthy in 2017. Hamels went 11-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 24 starts with Texas.
It’s obvious Hamels is not the pitcher he once was, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be the ace of the rotation. If Hamels is able to make 32 starts and avoid injuries then there is a good chance he’ll be able to bounce back and be a leader.
The other returning member, Perez is a work in progress. He went 13-12 with a 4.82 ERA in 32 starts with Texas last season. He pitched better than his stats showed, but not enough to be considered a No. 2 starter.
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The Rangers believe they have something special in Perez, but just haven’t tapped into it fully. He has six years of MLB experience and one season with an ERA below 4. It’s hard to make a case that he’ll be reliable, but you never know.
Jon Daniels wasted little time this off-season, and immediately snatched up veteran Doug Fister. The 33-year-old went 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) with the Boston Red Sox last season. It was a one-year deal worth $4 million, so not a huge investment by Texas.
The Rangers believe Fister can be a reliable option for them. He has a 3.68 career ERA through nine Major League seasons. He’s not going to be the ace of any staff, but if healthy he can be counted on in the backend of the rotation.
After that, the Rangers went out and signed Mike Minor to a three-year deal. The once starter with the Atlanta Braves, then converted reliever will now attempt to convert back into a starting pitcher.
Minor put together a fantastic 2017 campaign, posting a 2.55 ERA in 60 games with six saves and 88 strikeouts. He hasn’t started in the MLB since 2014, and threw just 77 innings in the bullpen last season.
It could be difficult for Minor to convert back into the rotation. He went from 77 innings to potentially 150-200 innings as a starter in 2018. There’s a chance he can convert back into a starter, but don’t hold your breath.
Lastly, the Rangers acquired lefty Matt Moore from the Giants for two Minor League pitchers. He was once an All-Star with the Tampa Bay Rays, but had his career derailed by an elbow injury. The Rangers are taking a chance that he can bounce back.
Last season, Moore went 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA in 31 starts and one relief appearance. He allowed 107 earned runs, and a career-high 27 home runs. The Rangers believe they can tap back into his potential and turn him around.
The Rangers are going to need a lot to go right for this scenario to work in their favor. It’s a rotation filled with guys that are past their prime, and Martin Perez. It’s a low risk, short-term rotation, but it’s difficult to imagine it having much success.
Losing Andrew Cashner is going to hurt their rotation. The Rangers are going to need Moore to be their bounce back pitcher in 2018. It’s a creative rotation, but one that isn’t likely going to hold up for an entire season.