There are a lot of current possibilities when comes to the Texas Rangers‘ starting rotation as we approach Opening Day. The only certainties are Yu Darvish as the ace and Martin Perez as the No. 2 man to start the season.
No other Texas pitcher has done much during the spring to make fans believe they can be counted on every third or fourth day to make a quality start and earn a win. Derek Holland is out until the All-Star break, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis are returning from injuries and Alexi Ogando has allowed 11 runs in the last two Spring Training starts.
Martin Perez and Joe Saunders are likely to be second and third in the rotation, respectively, but at this point there has been no indication from manager Ron Washington who will start after Darvish.
So with all the uncertainty, Darvish must be a rock every fifth game for his ball club.
It goes without saying that the ace of the rotation is expected to win a majority of his starts, but it needs to be more than that this season for Darvish. He is entering his third season in MLB, and his ERA dropped more than a point from year one to year two — 3.90 to 2.83. He ended up second in the Cy Young Award voting last season and led the American League with 277 strikeouts.
Those same numbers will be crucial to the Rangers succeeding this season. It isn’t farfetched to believe Darvish will lead the league in strikeouts again, but with more experience and his potential to be dominant, his ERA could drop even closer to two, which could be critical early in the season.
Without Darvish, Texas has a championship caliber lineup with a middle of the pack rotation. Should his season begin on a rocky note, the Rangers might find themselves battling to stay afloat and even thinking about trades that would bring another starter to Arlington.