The Texas Rangers are less than a day away from opening up the 2018 campaign and are doing so with an eye to the future. The Rangers are focusing on developing young talent and look to exceed expectations in a division run by the reigning World Series champs.
It’s not a rebuild. Don’t call it a rebuild. At least that was the mantra of GM Jon Daniels as the Texas Rangers headed into the offseason after watching in-state rival, Houston, win a dramatic World Series.
The Rangers entered the offseason looking to strengthen a rotation and bullpen that combined for a 4.66 ERA in the 2017 season. After a trade deadline move that saw long time ace, Yu Darvish, head to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rangers found themselves without a true number one in the rotation. The bullpen was awful and nobody had solidified themselves as the closing option. The needs were plenty and the rumors were abounding. Jake Arrieta? Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb? Yu Darvish making a return? All options that Texas found themselves often connected to. But the Rangers took the road less travelled and added the likes of Mike Minor, Matt Moore and Doug Fister, opting for players looking to reclaim past success on a team that needed the depth.
Fast forward to today and the expectations for the Texas Rangers in the 2018 season are low to say the least. Many predictions have Texas slotted for at best, a 4th place finish in the AL West, ending with a record well below .500. With brutal honesty, this seems like a reasonable assessment.
Despite all this negativity, the Texas Rangers season is full of opportunity and fans should still maintain interest. The Rangers roster has the young talent give us a look at the possibilities of the future. Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo all look to continue their growth as the future star power of the this team. Willie Calhoun will likely return the to big league club shortly. Martin Perez, Yohander Mendez and Jose Leclerc give us a glimpse of the young pitching within the organization. Despite the pessimism, there is a future among these names and this year is about watching it develop.
Odor is unlikely to have as bad a year as he did this past season when he hit .204 and struck out a career high 162 times. Even with those struggles he still put up his second straight 30 homerun season. Mazara had a relatively decent season hitting .253 at the age of 22 and could be poised to have a breakout season. Gallo has shown his ability to hit the long ball racking up 41 homers last season and looking to build on that in 2018.
Reasonably, Martin Perez can lower his ERA of 4.82 and solidify himself as a middle of the rotation arm. Jose Leclerc shows promise as a bullpen arm with a lively fastball. Although Mendez won’t start the 2018 season with the club, he is one of the brighter arms in the Rangers pitching ranks and could find himself up with the big league team by the halfway point.
All of this isn’t to say that the Rangers will be great or even good. But there is potential with this club and I have no doubt fans will find plenty of excitement to keep them entertained throughout this season.
Personally, I think this team is poised to surprise people. There will be flashes of talent and potential that will show that this team isn’t as far away from being a playoff contender as it initially may look. On the optimistic side, I think this team could keep it close with the Angels for 2nd in the AL West and end up finishing in 3rd. A more realistic expectation has this club finishing 3rd or 4th and the Astros running away with the division. As far as final record, I see the Rangers missing .500 by a few games and finishing a respectable 76-86.
Comment and give us your thoughts on the season.