Texas Rangers: Pitching rotation could be among best in baseball

Manager Chris Woodward held an early spring press conference on Tuesday, and set the bar high for his newly built Texas Rangers pitching rotation.

Manager Chris Woodward had high praise for GM Jon Daniels and his team for revamping the Texas Rangers rotation for 2020 and beyond. Free agent signings Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles come in on team friendly deals, and bringing in a bonafide ace in Corey Kluber only strengthens the depth of the Rangers’ rotation. For Chris Woodward, he wants to challenge this pitching staff. He wants excellence, but not only excellence, he wants them to be the best.

“My challenge to them is, ‘Let’s be the best in baseball,’” Woodward said. “There is a lot that goes into it, but if you set the ceiling high, the bar high, I want our guys to take ownership in that.” -Chris Woodward

The Texas Rangers have not led the American League in team ERA since 1983, but this group has that potential. The staff the Rangers’ front office put together over the past few years has a good chance to make the Texas Rangers a pitching-first organization, a label that has never been associated with North Texas baseball. Coming into 2020, a rotation of Kluber, Minor, Lynn, Gibson and Lyles has the makings of being the best rotation in team history. Not to mention the starting rotation for Triple-A Nashville. The likes of Kolby Allard, Joe Palumbo, Jonathan Hernandez (if not in the Rangers’ bullpen) and Brock Burke will make up the Sounds rotation and offer quality depth pieces just waiting to be called upon.

Fangraphs has published 2020 ZiPS projections for the Texas Rangers and the pitching staff looks to be in good shape. Here is a breakdown of the ZiPS projections in order from highest to lowest WAR:

  • Lance Lynn: 3.6 WAR, projected 14-9, 4.05 ERA, 3.98 FIP
  • Corey Kluber: 3.1 WAR, projected 11-7, 3.98 ERA, 3.84 FIP
  • Mike Minor: 3.0 WAR, projected 12-9, 4.48 ERA, 4.48 FIP
  • Kyle Gibson: 1.5 WAR, projected 9-9, 5.11 ERA, 4.75 FIP
  • Jordan Lyles: 1.1 WAR, projected 8-8, 5.21 ERA, 4.80 FIP

A combined 12.3 WAR for the projected starting rotation is not bad compared to the starting staff last year. Other than Minor and Lynn in 2019, the rest of the rotation had an ERA north of seven.

Fans should look forward to the newly built rotation, and all of its potential. If Yasmani Grandal is correct, Jordan Lyles is going to take the next step in his career. He has gone away from his sinker, and found great success in a straight fastball with good offspeed pitches. If Kyle Gibson and Corey Kluber are healthy, they provide quality, much needed innings for a young bullpen that is sure to get their fair share of innings, as well. Getting their mechanics and timing back will be the biggest challenge this spring when dealing with their injuries, and only time will tell if they will be back at full strength. If Mike Minor and Lance Lynn have back to back good seasons, the Texas Rangers will be in business, and potentially in contention. Will they be the best rotation in baseball? In reality, no. Could they be a top rotation in the big leagues? Absolutely.

Next: Interesting non-roster invitees who could make the club
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