Yu Darvish is undoubtedly the ace for the Texas Rangers. After him the rotation is up for grabs. Going into spring training the only bad news was Derek Holland and his knee surgery. Now, after a couple days in Surprise, Arizona, Matt Harrison has already had a pitching session moved back. They are saying it’s just precaution and easing him back in but the Rangers need Harrison to return to his 2012 form.
The only pitching addition is Tommy Hanson. Hanson, who last played for the Angels, has a chance to make the team as an end of the rotation pitcher. When he broke into the league with the Atlanta Braves in 2009 he was dominate. His rookie year he went 11-4 with a 2.89 era in 21 starts. In 2010 he had 34 starts and a record of 10-11 with 3.33. The last 3 seasons combined he has gone 28-20 with a 4.50 era. The Rangers are hoping he can get back to his first 2 seasons of production.
Martin Perez and Harrison are competing for the 2 spot in the rotation. The advantage in my opinion goes to Perez. Harrison has way more skins on the wall in experience but is also coming off 2 back surgeries in the past year. Perez had a setback last year when a line drive hit and broke his forearm. When he returned from the DL he showed that he can be a top of rotation guy for many years to come. He had stretches last year were you almost expected him to win every time he took the mound.
Alexei Ogando, when healthy, can be a number 2 or 3 but hasn’t showed any signs that he can stay healthy for a full year. His first year as a starter he made the all-star game but got tired down the stretch and was placed in the bullpen. He looks to be the clear number 4 pitcher.
So that leaves Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross fighting with Tommy Hanson for the 5 spot in the rotation. Last year Scheppers was solid as a late-inning bullpen pitcher. He was a starter in the minor leagues but he couldn’t stay healthy and after only a couple days in Surprise he is already being set down for a few days.
On the other hand, Ross is the opposite. He was a starter in the minors and always healthy. The only reason he has been in the bullpen is because he was too good during spring training in 2011 not to have him in the big leagues. That team had a good rotation and the only spot for Ross was in the bullpen.
With all this said, the Texas Rangers are going to miss Holland. The hope is that Hanson and either Ross or Scheppers will be able to contribute to the rotation until Holland returns. They are not going to be expected to win 10 games each by the all-star break, but they do need to be able to eat innings and keep the team in games.
It’s still uncertain when Holland will be back and when he does it will be like adding a solid pitcher at the trade deadline. Spring training just started and it’s way too early to guess what the rotation will look like. It’s going to be an interesting battle between Hanson, Scheppers, and Ross.