Texas Rangers: 2021 rotation full of upside and uncertainty

The Texas Rangers’ starting rotation will look a lot different in 2021 than it has the last two seasons.

Out of all the key positional groups on the Texas Rangers‘ 40-man roster, the one which has undergone the most sweeping of changes ahead of the 2021 season would be the team’s starting rotation.

In 2020, the Rangers rolled out a primarily veteran group at first, before transitioning to mostly younger hurlers by the season’s conclusion.

Among the names that comprised Texas’ initial 2020 rotation included Lance Lynn, Corey Kluber, Mike Minor, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.

In a normal year, that rotation might have actually been pretty good, given each pitchers’ experience and relative durability.

However, it wasn’t to be, as Lance Lynn was the only pitcher in that group to really sustain any kind of success for the Rangers in 2020.

Kluber made just one start for the team, while Minor was traded to the Oakland A’s at the 2020 trade deadline.

Gibson and Lyles both struggled mightily in 2020, each posting ERA’s north of five on the year.

The latter two remain on Texas’ payroll heading into this season, and with their veteran status, one would assume they are both in position to land rotation spots on a roster that, quite frankly, doesn’t have many other good ones at the moment.

However, there is at least some intrigue with this group in 2021 thanks to some off-season trades and free agent acquisitions.

2021 Texas Rangers projected rotation:

RHP Dane Dunning

RHP Kohei Arihara

RHP Kyle Cody

RHP Kyle Gibson

RHP Jordan Lyles

The Texas Rangers will have an all right-handed starting rotation this season, barring changes in Spring Training or with player acquisitions.

Unlike the team’s projected lineup for 2021, which looks very balanced, the Rangers’ starting rotation appears to be completely right-handed this season, barring any unforeseen changes.

Of course, unforeseen changes are part of the nature of rebuilding clubs, as they look to evaluate their in-house talent.

The good news for the Texas Rangers, is that the first three names listed above are all young and promising pitchers, each with varying degrees of upside and with years of cheap team control.

Dunning was acquired in the Lance Lynn trade which sent the latter to the Chicago White Sox during the Winter Meetings, while Arihara was signed to a two-year contract out of Japan on Christmas Day.

As for Kyle Cody, he’s currently the team’s 24th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and proved to team brass last season over a short stint that he’s capable of earning a spot in the Rangers’ rotation to begin the year.

The bad news for Texas is that they’re stuck with Gibson and Lyles and their contracts due to their awful 2020 campaigns. However, they’ll serve as innings eaters at minimum, which is useful for any ballclub.

Overall, the Texas Rangers’ 2021 starting rotation possesses a mix of upside with Dunning, Arihara and Cody, and some uncertainty with Gibson and Lyles, although the first three names are also far from sure commodities.

At the very least, this group should be interesting to watch as the organization begins to overhaul their pitching depth in earnest.