Monday, February 25, 2013
Rangers' rotation concerns
By Jason A. Churchill
The Texas Rangers have a solid starting rotation, led by right-hander Yu Darvish and southpaw Matt Harrison. After that, there are questions to be answered, including the durability of reliever-turned-starter Alexi Ogando and who fills in for Colby Lewis for a few months. The key, writes ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett, is left-hander Derek Holland, who reportedly is on a mission to focus more than ever before.
Holland, for all of his abilities -- plus fastball velocity, two useful breaking balls and a changeup -- struggled in 2012 after two promising seasons. If he does take that next step and pitches like a strong No. 3 starter, as his raw stuff suggests, it would be a big boost for Texas, particularly in the first half of 2013.
That's because until Lewis is back, the No. 5 spot in Texas' rotation is unsettled. Candidates include Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm and perhaps to a lesser extent Randy Wells. Ross, who spent all of his rookie season as a reliever in 2012, kicked off the spring competition for the final job with two scoreless innings Friday.
As for outside options, the club does not appear to have enough interest in free agent Kyle Lohse That was reiterated in this piece by T.R. Sullivan, especially since the signing would cost the club the No. 24 pick in the '13 draft.
As for the trade front, there are some quality arms that could be put on the trade block, including Cubs righty Matt Garza, and perhaps even Phillies lefty Cliff Lee, who is familiar with pitching in Texas from his stint there in 2010. If the Phillies fall out of the top-heavy NL East, Lee could be moved.
And even if the Rangers stand pat, their five-man does have both promise and potential, and as Baseball Prospectus' Ben Lindbergh writes for ESPN Insider, Holland and the rest of the rotation's projected production looks better entering 2013:
Ben LindberghHolland's PECOTA outlook
"There's probably no truth to the conventional wisdom that lefty pitchers develop later, but PECOTA expects this particular southpaw to have a solid age-26 season after a shaky 2012. However, the system does suggest that home runs will continue to haunt him: A projected total of 25 would be an improvement over the 32 he coughed up last season, but still too many for him to take the next step toward the top of the rotation. Still, the encouraging projections for Darvish, Holland and Alexi Ogando (expected to produce 3.6 WARP in his return to the rotation) should reassure Rangers fans who haven't quite gotten over missing out on Zack Greinke."