The Texas Rangers starting pitchers were less than impressive in 2016. Things were not helped by the fact that the club failed to secure a reliable starting pitcher at last season’s trade deadline. The Rangers chose, instead, to add more power hitters. This decision set Texas up for too many close games. Luckily for the starting pitchers, the Rangers’ offensive production got the team out of many tight games. So far in the 2017 off-season, the Texas Rangers haven’t added any arms worth cheering about. This club will definitely be relying on the bullpen, especially towards the back end of the rotation. Here is a prediction for the Texas Rangers rotation in 2017.
- Cole Hamels, LHP
In 2015, The Rangers sent starter Matt Harrison and minor league prospects Jorge Alfaro (catcher), Nick Williams (outfielder), Jake Thompson (pitcher), Alec Asher (pitcher) and Jerad Eickhoff (pitcher) to the Phillies. In return, the Rangers picked up Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman. Hamels has been the ace that Texas needed for many years after they went many years suffering in the starting pitching category. In 2016, Hamels wasn’t all that fans had dreamed he’d be, but certainly was the ace the team needed. Going 15-5 last season, with a 3.32 ERA, Hamels was the best part of the Texas rotation. He managed a 1.306 WHIP, a number that manager Jeff Banister would like to see come down. In 2017, Hamels will be the team’s number one, and hopefully, will deliver enough to give the bullpen a rest.
- Yu Darvish, RHP
Once considered by many to be the best pitcher in Japanese professional baseball prior to his arrival in Major League Baseball in 2012, Darvish could easily help Hamels improve this starting rotation. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, causing him to miss the entire season, but had a successful 2016. It was certainly a success for someone coming back from TJ surgery. Darvish went 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA. In 100.1 innings pitched, Darvish kept his WHIP under 1.200. It was good to see him bounce back in such good fashion. A lot of pitchers don’t come back to 100% until after their first year back. That means 2017 could be the year that Yu Darvish pitches just like Texas Rangers know he can.
- Martin Perez, LHP
This is where the rotation starts to look less than impressive. Martin Perez went 10-11 in 2016. His 4.39 ERA and 1.414 WHIP were heartbreaking for the Texas Rangers’ fans. Perez was not at all reliable and felt more like a stopgap in the rotation. With a lack of options, it seemed like he was plugged in. While yes, he has the capability to be a starting pitcher, Perez just isn’t good at it. With the starting pitchers that Texas has on the roster, he’s the best option at the number three slot. And that’s sad to say.
- Andrew Cashner
The Texas Rangers locked down Andrew Cashner to a one-year, $10 million, contract in November. Over seven major league seasons, Cashner has a 31-53 record with a 3.89 ERA. Last season, with the San Diego Padres and the Miami Marlins, he went 5-11 with a 5.25 ERA. That span covered 27 starts and one relief appearance. Cashner is 30 years old arm and doesn’t seem to be improving. There are plenty of pitchers at 30 plus years of age that are successful. Cashner doesn’t seem to fit that category as of late. With that being said, he has tenure as a starting pitcher. His breakout season in 2014 shows a bit of his potential. He is a reliable option at the number four slot.
- Tyson Ross, RHP
The Rangers signed Tyson Ross to a one-year deal, worth up to $9 million, this past week. The club had him on their radar in previous years, but were unable to secure him in a trade. Once he became a free agent, Texas made their move. Ross was a big name in previous years, entering the 2010 season as the Oakland A’s 10th best prospect. He isn’t expected to be ready for the start of 2017 due to injury.
Ross is still recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, that he underwent last October. The 29-year-old is 32-53 with a 3.64 ERA in 153 big league appearances with 102 starts for the Athletics and the Padres. Ross’ 407 strikeouts in 2014-15 ranked third in the National League for that period. It’s hard to say how he, or anyone, will recover from the injury. Hopes are high for Tyson Ross. If he is able to get back to where he was in 2014, he could find himself inching ahead of Cashner, depending on if he himself can get back to his 2014 self.
- A.J. Griffin, RHP
The injury to Yu Darvish brought A.J. Griffin to the spotlight in Texas. After signing a minor league deal with the Rangers in December of 2015, he earned a spot in the starting rotation during Spring Training. It was a leap to have him in the rotation, but Texas was scarce at starting pitching. Griffin underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014 and missed the entire season. He was still feeling tightness and discomfort afterward and ended up missing the entire 2015 season as well.
Griffin started off 2016 well, going 3-0. He finished with a 7-4 record, a 5.07 ERA and a 1.361 WHIP. It wasn’t great, but was better than expected for someone who had missed two years of baseball. Honestly, the club should be looking to find better arms at the No. 5 and No. 6 slot. If they can manage to do that, don’t feel bad seeing Griffin head back to the minors.