It has been quite an offseason for the Texas Rangers. GM Chris Young (CY) and owner Ray Davis made it clear that they were going to enhance the rotation every chance they got, and they have not disappointed.
To go alongside Jon Gray, the Rangers have added Jake Odorizzi via a trade with the Atlanta Braves, resigned Martin Perez via the qualifying offer, and signed free agents Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney.
If CY were to stop right here, this rotation would be light years ahead of the 2022 Rangers version that included Perez and Gray, and also the likes of Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto, and at the end of the season Cole Ragans. The Rangers could be finished, or they could be stockpiling as many quality arms as they can get their hands on. Pitching in the major leagues has turned into an old bull riding saying, “it’s not if you get hurt, but when and how bad.”
Texas Rangers adding quality arms and lots of them this winter
It is well documented that Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney have both had their injury problems as of late. The last time that Odorizzi had over 106.1 IP, was in 2019 when he had 159 IP. Jon Gray had his own minor injury issues for the Rangers this season and started 24 games and had 127.1 IP.
Perez was a workhorse for the Rangers in 2022, picking up his first All-Star game appearance while starting 32 games and racking up 196.1 IP. This innings pitched total was just 2.1 IP off of his career high in 2016. While 2022 was a major breakout year for Perez, he only had 114 IP in 2021 while struggling for the Boston Red Sox.
Pitching is a position that you can never have too much of. Perhaps the Rangers are going to be moving away from the standard five-man rotation and will instead implement a six-man rotation.
The Houston Astros utilized a six-man rotation for much of the 2022 season, mainly to limit the workload of Justin Verlander as he returned from Tommy John surgery. One could easily argue that the Astros were so deep at the starting pitching position that this was an easy decision. That is true, but they are not the only team to use it (San Diego and Seattle just to name two more, have used six-man rotations at times), and I feel like there will be more clubs go this direction in an attempt to keep their top guys healthy for the entire season.
We would rather have a healthy deGrom for 27 starts than to have him injured and miss time in the middle of the season. The added rest day between starts will also reduce the wear and tear on the arm and body, and as we gear up for hopeful playoff runs over the next several seasons, this extra rest will allow the starters to be fresher come October. One thing is for sure, Mike Maddux will be getting the best out of all of our pitchers.
So, if we do go with a six-man rotation, who is the sixth man going to be? I have a feeling that we aren’t finished acquiring starting pitching this offseason. We have used our cash to buy guys in the free agent market, but we have yet to utilize any of our minor league talent pool by turning those prospects into major league pitching. There could very well be a trade in our future that will perhaps bring yet another starting pitcher into the fold.
Even if this doesn’t happen, between Dunning, Otto, Ragans, and even some of our young minor leaguers, Bochy will be able to go to a sixth starter that can hold their own. And if they don’t, there are several waiting in the wings for their shot with the big club. A six-man rotation could also be a great way to introduce our young guys into the rotation in the future as well.
For the Texas Rangers to be going from a lack of pitching, to a potential surplus is nothing short of amazing. The six-man rotation appears to be a viable option for the Texas Rangers both in 2023 and possibly beyond.