Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish looks to lead a strong rotation with a lot of upside heading into the 2013 season.

Texas Rangers' rotation built to last

It is hard to believe the Rangers squandered last season’s on-a-silver-platter AL West Division title, but they did. It is even harder to believe the Rangers didn’t land Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton or Justin Upton, but they didn’t. It is unfathomable that the Rangers traded Michael Young and let Mike Napoli go to Boston, but they did both of those. They did all those things. Since September, it has been tough to be a Rangers fan.

Have no fear! The 2013 season is upon us, and I am here to share with you why I think the Rangers will be successful in 2013. Today I will break down the starting rotation.

Even when the Rangers had playoff-caliber teams in the mid-’90s, pitching was always the issue. Back then we had the likes of Rick Helling and Darren Oliver, the young Darren Oliver. We had Ken Hill and Bobby Witt.

This season looks to provide one of the best rotations in Rangers history. Unfortunately Martin Perez fractured his arm and will not make the Opening Day roster, but they are still stacked.

Obviously Yu Darvish is the ace of staff. Matt Harrison had an All-Star season in 2012. Derek Holland looks to gain more consistency this season after a lackluster 2012. Alexi Ogando makes his second stint in the rotation, and I will give you my surprise pick for the fifth rotation spot.

Starting Five:

1. Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90 ERA, 221 SO, 191.1 IP, 1.28 WHIP)

Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish looks to continue on his 2012 success in 2013.

The 26-year-old Japanese sensation will start his second season as a Ranger. This time around, he will be in the role everyone thought he would be last season, Ace of Staff. Darvish had a good rookie season in 2012, but the Rangers franchise is resting on his right arm. In order to be successful in 2013 he must bring his walk total down and increase his pitching efficiency. There is no reason he needs to throw more than 20 pitches an inning, ever.
Biggest improvement this Spring: Darvish has learned to control all his pitches. He learned to paint the corners and keep the ball down, something that plagued him in 2012.
Prediction: If he stays healthy, and we all know he has had some neck and shoulder issues, Darvish can win 20 games, but he must be able to control the game and not let his pitches control him. I’ll say, 19-12, 3.10 ERA, 245 SO.

2. Matt Harrison (18-11, 3.29 ERA, 133 SO, 213.1 IP, 1.29 WHIP)

Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison was an All Star in 2012.

Matty Ice has put together back-to-back solid seasons in 2011 and 2012. His 18 wins last season are a career high, and so is the innings pitched. He came into the role of Ace last season after Colby Lewis went down. The 27-year-old Harrison performed well throughout the season, but lost his edge as the season turned late. He must bounce back in 2013 in order for the Rangers to have a good chance at the playoffs.
Biggest improvement this Spring: Arm strength. Harry was plagued a bit at the end of 2012 with what I call lazy arm. He had thrown so many innings, his arm was tired. This spring he has become more of a workhorse, which is what the Rangers need.
Prediction: I do not think he wins 18 games again this season, but a 16-10 record with another 200+ IP is not out of the question. The only thing that worries me, he doesn’t strike many people out.

3. Derek Holland (12-7, 4.67 ERA, 145 SO, 175 IP, 1.22 WHIP)

Derek Holland looks to regain his 2011 World Series magic for the Rangers in 2013. (AP)

What a difference a mustache makes. Holland had his most productive season in 2011, but couldn’t reproduce it in 2012. He struggled with arm injuries and fatigue, and never really gained his form. He still had a decent season, and certainly shouldn’t sulk about his performance.
Keep your eye on: Consistency. If we can get Holland to pitch like he did in the 2011 World Series, he would become a perennial Cy Young candidate. Watch out for his consistency not only game to game, but inning to inning. If he stays positive he can have a good season.
Prediction: Holland will bounce back from last season’s disappointment, and surprise some Rangers fans. The 26-year-old lefty doesn’t have all the pressure on him like he has in the past, but I think he has embraced Ron Washington’s tough love. 14-9, 4.40 ERA, 167 SO, 191 IP, 1.33 WHIP

4. Alexi Ogando (13-8, 3.51 ERA, 126 SO, 169 IP, 1.14 WHIP in 2011)

Texas Rangers starter Alexi Ogando makes a return to the starting rotation. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Alexi “Oh Boy” Ogando is poised to make a return to the bullpen in 2013. He made a brief appearance last season before injuring himself against San Francisco. Ogando has 17 quality starts in his 30-career starts. He might be the key to a Rangers playoff run.
Keep an eye on: Arm Strength. We all know he can throw the ball hard and fast, but can he throw 100 pitches a game, twice a week?
Prediction: Ogando will return to his All-Star form in 2011 and help the Rangers stay afloat in the AL West. 15-7, 2.90 ERA, 136 SO, 180 IP, 1.2 WHIP.

5. Uhhh…
This is where things get foggy. Until Colby Lewis returns from surgery and gets back to form, the Rangers will have to plug in someone. Martin Perez may not be the answer in the interim because of a fractured forearm. Robbie Ross will be needed more in the bullpen. Who does that leave?

Texas Rangers starter Nick Tepesch is vying for a spot in the rotation. With a strong spring and a little luck, Tepesch could fight his way in. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Nick Tepesch. The 24-year-old Missouri native has surprised this Spring, and deserves at least a shot at competing at the big-league level for a while. He has a 2.25 ERA this spring and opponents are only hitting .233 off him.

It seems like it is worth a shot. Otherwise, rumors continue to swirl about Joba Chamberlain, Rick Porcello and Kyle Lohse.

Keep in in house, use Tepesch to eat some innings, and don’t take a chance on these other guys.

Tags: AJ Pierzynski Alexi Ogando Colby Lewis Darren Oliver Derek Holland Matt Harrison Nick Tepesch Ron Washington Texas Rangers Yu Darvish

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