There’s an old Bruce Springsteen song that pretty much sums up the state of the Rangers rotation choices so far this off-season after Hamels and Darvish.
It’s called “57 Channels And Nothin’ On.” It a commentary about how we have more programming choices than ever before, yet nothing worth watching. It’s as if every channel you click on they’re selling ceramic unicorns or, worse, it’s a non-stop Gilmore Girls marathon.
That’s the Rangers rotation right now.
It’s Hamels and Darvish. And a whole lot of ceramic unicorns to choose from.
It’s like 57 choices and nothing doing.
Martin Perez is a lock for one of those spots. By default he becomes the number three man, although that’s certainly higher than he would be in a more competitive rotation.
2016 pretty much exemplified Perez’s career to date. Streaky. Consistently inconsistent. The Rangers lost seven of his first nine starts in 2016, then they won his next eight starts in a row, then they were 8-8 in his next sixteen starts. Of his 33 starts, only 19 were quality starts (six innings or more, three earned runs or fewer). Perez is one of the few pitchers the Rangers actually drafted and developed, so you can’t give up on him, even though he has a lifetime ERA of 4.29.
He will be 26 when the season starts. Maybe 2017 is the year Perez figures it out.
Among the familiar names on the free-agent radar are Colby Lewis and Derek Hamilton. Jon Daniels said the Rangers “have not closed the door on re-signing either.” Sometimes when opportunity knocks, though, it’s best to duck down out of view, be really quiet and act like nobody’s home and maybe it goes away and bothers the neighbors.
Choices currently on the twenty-five man roster are last year’s fifth-starter in A. J. Griffin, and everyone’s sixth starter Andrew Cashner. Both were promising pitchers whose careers have been derailed by injury. Griffin, you will recall, missed two full seasons in a row before finding a spot in the Rangers rotation in 2016. He started out strong, though, going 3-0 with a 2.94 ERA in six starts. Then the injury bug struck again, forcing him out of action for six weeks. When he came back, he started seventeen games and was actually worse than Cashner, if that’s possible, going 4-4 with a 5.91 ERA.
Cashner started 26 games last season and made it into the sixth inning just six times. Only once into the seventh, and that was for just one out. He may be unaware that major league games are nine innings.
Both Griffin and Cashner have upside. Mainly because there’s not a whole lot of downside room left.
Maybe 2017 is the year Griffin returns to form.
Maybe 2017 is the year Cashner puts it back together.
Then there are the two perpetual boomerangs in Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzales, two prospects who exemplify the very meaning of the word prospect. Neither has yet to figure it out for any length of time on their many and uneventful call-ups to Arlington before heading back down to Frisco. Both have earned the dreaded tag of minor league depth.
Maybe 2017 is the year Nick Martinez figures it out.
Maybe 2017 is the year Chi Chi Gonzalez figures it out.
Hamels and Darvish and a whole lot of maybes.
But the good news is this: The Rangers won a ton of games in the last inning in 2016. So they don’t have to win the off-season right now either. They’re down 7-0. But it’s early. (Like a Cashner start!)
At least for now, though, the 2017 version of the rotation reminds me of another Springsteen song: “Counting On A Miracle.”