The Texas Rangers have a tough decision to make regarding their opening day starter, but that decision isn’t just about who’s the best option. Rangers manager Ron Washington has to take a lot of things into account, especially considering the two pitchers to which he’s narrowed down his decision: Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison.
The Rangers open the season on the road against the Houston Astros as the two Texas teams begin a new era of their rivalry. Houston has moved from the National League Central Division to the American League West Division, so the Rangers and Astros will be playing a lot more often than just their annual inter-league series.
However, Washington says that in addition to the two players, his decision of the opening day starter will be based off what the Los Angeles Angels do the final week before the season. Texas hosts Los Angeles the weekend following the start of the season, so the Rangers will get a full dose of AL West competition right off the bat.
That is one of many important factors regarding who should start on opening day. The thing Washington has to keep in mind in addition to who’s hot and when, who has a better spring and who’s more talented is the confidence factor. Harrison had his first All-Star season in 2012 after a rough 2011 that had his future with the Rangers in question. Darvish looked like a surefire ace at different times during his rookie season and an average starter at others. So whoever gets the nod on March 31 in Houston will get Wash’s vote of confidence and that could play a huge factor throughout the season.
Texas has a lot more money tied up in Darvish than Harrison, so that will be a sub-factor to the confidence aspect of it. Harrison seems like a guy who can roll with the punches, but he’s also not as popular as Darvish, who might need the spotlight of opening day to get him rolling for a stellar sophomore season that will be considered a failure unless it includes two starts in the World Series.
Whichever player doesn’t start on opening day shouldn’t be negatively effected, but the one who receives the attention on baseball’s biggest day could greatly benefit from it and Washington has to see that from both sides. In short, he has a really tough decision ahead, but that’s why he gets paid the big bucks.