Now that the Rangers have shored up their rotation by acquiring Ross Detwiler and Yovani Gallardo, where does this put them?
Assuming James Shields lands somewhere other than the American League West, and assuming there are no other huge blockbuster deals, below are the projected starting rotations for all five AL West teams.
Where do the Rangers’ one-through five rank in the division, one through five?
Here is how I stack them up. This does not take into account pitchers due to come back mid-season.
1. Los Angeles Angels:
One through five, the Angels rotation is solid. This team won 98 games with this rotation, and Garrett Richards, the ace of the staff, missed the last five weeks of the season. He is expected to be ready for Opening Day. Matt Shoemaker was on nobody’s radar or depth charts to start the season, but racked up an amazing 16-4 record with a 3.04 ERA. Not bad for dropping in out of nowhere. All that seemed to drop into the Rangers’ rotation last year were actual bird droppings. How well will Richards come back from his gruesome torn patellar tendon? Does Jered Weaver have another 18-9 year in his right arm? Was Shoemaker a flash in the pan? Will CJ Wilson even get sick of himself like the rest of the world?
2. Seattle Mariners:
The Mariners won 87 games and were battling for a wild card until a really bad winless week in late September when their season ended prematurely. Any rotation that can throw out two potential Cy Youngers in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma is a force to be reckoned with. Paxton will have a solid 6-4/3.04 year under his belt, and Roenis Elias should be able to build off his solid 2014. The key to this is Taijuan Walker. If he is ready, and if he is what he is projected to be, this rotation will close to the Angels. And his name is Taijuan. How can you go wrong with that?
3. Texas Rangers:
A 67-win team should improve greatly by having Holland and Darvish at the same time, pitching back-to-back games. The big key here, though, is Gallardo. He is a very solid number three. That is good. The Rangers didn’t have a number three. They had a one, a one A, then a whole bunch of fives. The trade for Gallardo lengthens out the rotation. Darvish has the potential to win a Cy Young award, or at least be a top five pitcher in the league. Holland pitched that way for his brief 2014 (2-0 with a 1.46 ERA, amazing). Gallardo is a vast improvement over Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, Scott Baker, Miles Mikolas, Miles From Good Joe Saunders, Tanner Scheppers, Jerome Williams, Hector Noesi, Phil Irwin or Robby Ross that the Rangers trotted out last year. Colby Lewis quietly had a good second half to go with a horrible first half. Can his hip hold out? Ross Detwiler might have been told he was brought over as a starter. But many Rangers players have been told many things by this front office. Lisalverto Bonilla surprised with a 3-0, 3.05. He could and should challenge Detwiler for the number five. If Martin Perez is able to come back anywhere near where he left off, this rotation becomes as good as Seattle’s. If Matt Harrison comes back, this is the best rotation in the division. Davish, Holland, Perez, Harrison, Gallardo. Wow.
4. Oakland Athletics:
The Athletics won 88 games, made it to the Wild Card game, lost that, then made so many trades this off-season, nobody has any idea what they have left when the dust settles. In one surprising transaction, they actually traded Sonny Gray for himself. Billy Beane was hailed as a genius for snagging someone as talented as Gray for so little. No way Scott Kazmir wins 15 games again. Not just in 2015, but for the rest of his career. Every year someone plays way over their head. Last year it was Kazmir. Jesse Hahn is the sleeper here. 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA for San Diego last year. He’s just 24. This rotation is actually pretty solid, but not spectacular. It’s pretty close to the Rangers, in fact. If, however, A.J. Griffin and Jerrod Parker come back from Tommy John, this becomes one of the top two in the division. Never count out Oakland.
5 Houston Astros:
I wouldn’t want to go into a season expecting to compete with this rotation. I also wouldn’t want swine flu, a used Yugo, a cat, a daughter with the last name Kardashian, tickets to a hip hop concert or my aunt’s macaroni and cheese.