Going into the offseason, the Rangers knew exactly what they had to do to improve. After their 1 and 2 men in the rotation had extremely rough outings in the first two games of the ALDS (against the newly found rival Blue Jays), they had to take a look at their pitching staff. The 2016 Rangers were carried by the offense. And that worked… for a little while. In the American League, they finished third in team batting average, fourth in runs scored, hits, slugging, and stolen bases, and fifth in home runs. However, on the other side, they were just 13th in ERA, Runs allowed, and Earned runs. They also finished 14th in the AL in strikeouts, wild pitches, and 9th in Home runs allowed. Yikes. Eventually we knew that their pitching would be the downfall. Now I’m sure that nobody predicted that the number 1 and 2 men would get blown out of the water at home in the first series, but it had always been a lingering issue. However, the 2017 staff looks a bit better:
Thier projected rotation looks like this:
2. Cole Hamels
Starting at the top, Darvish again looks like he will have a solid year. Coming off of a year with 17 starts, he produced a 1.12 WHIP and 11.84 K/9. Those are encouraging numbers, and if he can stay healthy, things are looking up for Darvish heading into 2017.
Hamels also had a solid year, even with a horrendous September. He was the most effective pitcher for the Rangers in 2016, and we should have no problems with the number 2 slot in their rotation.
Cashner would ideally be either the third or fourth spot heading into the season. I don’t even want to bring up numbers, and I don’t need to. Cashner was awful in 2016. He was last or close to it in a variety of categories. However, he had stellar 2014 and 15 seasons, so the Rangers are hoping a change of scenery can yield a bounce-back.
Martin Perez was erratic to say the least. We have seen solid #3 stuff from Perez, the problem is his inconsistency. On the bright side, he threw 196 innings, blowing his previous best for a season out of the water. He also pitched very well at home. However, his accountability was tainted by his road split, posting a 5.78 ERA in away contests. If he can find a way to eliminate his road struggles, he is a solid 3 or 4 man. Look for him to surprise the league in 2017.
We have no clue where Ross will be, especially considering his injury status. He will miss all of spring training, and in all likelihood he won’t make his first start until early June. However, things are encouraging for him. His slider is one of the best in baseball, yielding an almost 45% swing-and-miss rate. His ERA has held steady at about 3.30 over his last 2 full seasons, a reasonable number for a bottom of the rotation starter. While we don’t completely know what to expect from him post-surgery, we know that he has the ability to be an asset in 2017.
While Ross is out, the Rangers have a couple of options for their fifth starter. It remains to be seen who they will pick out of spring training but there are some worthy candidates. A.J. Griffin looks like the favorite, however he allowed a staggering amount of home runs in his 2016 campaign. Yohander Mendez only played 2 games for the major league club, but posted some solid numbers on the farm. Also, Dillon Gee looks like he might get an opportunity with an invite to spring training. Time will tell who they choose, but it will be a close battle, and the Rangers will have depth should a problem arise. Any one of these 3 also have breakout potential.
The Rangers 2017 pitching staff looks very encouraging. If the Rangers hitting can continue to be dominant, and this pitching staff can stay healthy and productive, they should have no problem pulling off the hat trick and re-taking the A.L. West crown for the third straight year.