Where Does the Texas Rangers Rotation Stand Currently?
By Kenneth Nash
After adding a couple of pitchers during the month of December, where does the Texas Rangers rotation stand currently?
The Texas Rangers rotation was probably the biggest sore spot for the team during the 2018 season. Headlined in the first half by an underperforming Cole Hamels and then post-Hamels trade by Mike Minor. After Minor, it was a bit of a mash-up with the squad lacking depth and facing injuries.
Heading into 2019, Texas has acquired a couple of starting pitchers via trade or free agency adding some much-needed depth to the rotation. As things stand now, what does the rotation look like if the season were starting tomorrow?
1. Mike Minor, LHP
Mike Minor was the mainstay in the rotation last season after Cole Hamels was dealt to the Chicago Cubs midseason. Minor had an impressive 2018 campaign making 28 starts and posting a 4.18 ERA. Perhaps most surprising, Minor had a WHIP of just 1.12 meaning he was able to limit baserunners last season.
Minor will be the default number one and start Opening Day barring any offseason trade which is a possibility.
2. Lance Lynn, RHP
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Lance Lynn was one of those offseason acquisitions the Rangers made this year. The 31-year old spent 2018 split between the Twins and the Yankees and while his time in Minnesota was poor, he bounced back in New York. Combined last season Lynn made 29 starts with a 4.77 ERA. He maintained over a strikeout per inning average while throwing 156.2 innings.
The Rangers signed Lynn to a three-year deal this December with hopes he can contribute now and in the future. Lynn adds some much need experience to the top of the rotation and should compliment Minor well.
3. Drew Smyly, LHP
This is where the rotation gets a bit interesting. Any number of guys will be competing for a spot in the rotation but I give the edge to Drew Smyly here. Texas acquired the 29-year old from the Cubs this offseason with hopes he can bolster the rotation. After dealing with arm injuries, Smyly hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2016 but has been fairly effective in his 5 seasons of pitching prior.
2016 was his last season on the mound and he made 30 starts for the Rays posting a 4.88 ERA. If he can avoid bats he could be a big help for a Texas club looking to cash in on some of these lottery ticket pitchers they’ve acquired. I give him the #3 spot on potential but it’ll be interesting to see if he sticks in the rotation all year.
4. Ariel Jurado, RHP
Jurado is one of the guys fighting for a rotation spot that pitched for Texas last season. The 22-year old debuted for the Rangers in 2018 and made 12 appearances, 8 of those being starts. His 5.93 ERA isn’t comforting and he doesn’t generate much swing-and-miss stuff but there are still high hopes for Jurado.
Ariel likely will be competing with Yohander Mendez and Edinson Volquez for a spot in the rotation but I think the fact that he finished the year in Arlington last season gives him an edge over the other two.
5. Edinson Volquez, RHP
The last guy to make the traditional 5-man rotation is Edinson Volquez. The 35-year old signed a 2-year deal with Texas last offseason with expectations he would miss all of last season due to injury. Now he’s healthy and seems ready to contribute to the rotation. The right-hander is a name Rangers fans likely are familiar with as he’s had a respectable 10-year career that started with Texas.
Volquez’s last full season in the big leagues was 2016 with the Royals where he made an impressive 34 starts. What was not impressive was his 5.37 ERA and his elevated hits per 9 innings rate. Volquez will be competing with Jurado and Yohander Mendez for a spot in the rotation but I think Texas will start the year valuing his veteran leadership.