Despite having a good offense and a solid bullpen, the Texas Rangers are having a poor season. Their starting pitching has been that dreadful.
After last night’s win, the Texas Rangers improved to 54-69 on the year. They now stand 21 games behind the division leading Houston Astros. A lackluster season such as this one generally points to a lackluster offense, bullpen, and rotation. Though, that is not the case with the Rangers.
586 runs scored by their offense ranks 5th in MLB. That’s pretty good for a daily lineup filled with players under the age of 25. In addition, the Texas bullpen ranks 17th in MLB with a 4.12 ERA. That’s pretty good for a relief crew that lost Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Jesse Chavez weeks ago. The offense and the bullpen have plenty of reasons to be performing poorly; yet, both sectors are performing very well. If only we could say the same about the starting rotation.
A brutally bad rotation doesn’t come as much of a surprise. I’m not sure there has been a scrappier bunch of starting pitchers in the history of MLB than the one the Texas Rangers constructed entering 2018. The opening day rotation consisted of…
Cole Hamels– His age 34 season. Opening day consensus: Hamels is past his prime, but still a quality pitcher – still worthy of the “Ace” title.
Martin Perez– Hadn’t seen an ERA below 4.30 since 2013. Opening day consensus: A ton to prove, but he probably won’t prove much.
Doug Fister– Age 34 season, hadn’t seen an ERA below 4.19 since 2014. Opening day consensus: Also past his prime, but capable of earning double-digit wins.
Mike Minor– Converted starter to reliever, back to starter from reliever. Opening day consensus: Has potential, but he’ll need to prove he can handle a starter’s workload.
Matt Moore– Ruined by injuries; coming off a 6-15, 5.52 ERA season with the San Francisco Giants. Opening day consensus: Maybe the Rangers can strike lightning in a bottle.
As the team stands on August 17th, only two of those pitchers remain in the starting rotation – Martin Perez and Mike Minor. Fister made just 12 starts for Texas and was just recently shut down for the season with a knee injury. Moore was assigned to the bullpen after 12 terrible starts. And of course, Hamels was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Hamels went 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts with the Rangers prior to the trade.
In total, Texas Rangers starting pitchers have posted the following numbers:
-5.39 ERA (last in MLB)
-467 strikeouts (last in MLB)
-.285 batting average against (last in MLB)
-121 home runs allowed (most in MLB)
The Rangers have had their fair share of bad starting rotations; however, I don’t recall one being this helpless. 2018’s struggle should spotlight how far this team is from contention.
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Consider current contenders…the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Astros, Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, etc. Would any Rangers starter fit into any of those team’s starting rotations? Maybe Mike Minor would slot in as a fifth starter for a few contending teams, but that’s about it. All you have to do is compare the Texas Rangers’ rotation to the Houston Astros’ rotation and it’s evident how far this team is from even contending in the division.
The good news is help is on the way. Texas’ farm system is stacked with high potential pitching prospects. None of their top young arms are close to major league debuts, but a couple of them could surface by the time the Rangers move into the new ballpark in 2020. Next season will likely be similar to this season in regard to starting pitching, but that’s why the organization is currently partaking in a rebuild.
Nevertheless, the offense remains fun to watch. Hopefully the young bunch can keep up the fireworks and continue to cover for perhaps the worst starting staff in franchise history.