Last night on MLB TV, they showed the Blue Jays-Rangers game from May 1, 1991. It was Nolan Ryan going for his seventh no-hitter. I watched the game even though the drama of whether he would get it or not was spoiled long ago. Hint: He gets it. (Which reminds me of one of the greatest stories ever. Back when the movie Apollo 13 came out, a group of us at work were talking about it, when one young woman blurted out to me, “Don’t tell me how it ends. I haven’t seen it yet.” True story.)
Maybe it was a coincidence they were showing a great Rangers pitching performance—there haven’t been many over the years. Or maybe it was a nice little nod from MLB to what Rangers fans can expect now that they finally have a rotation that wasn’t assembled at the Salvation Army.
Rangers pitching. Wow. When have those two words ever been uttered together in the history of the world that wasn’t followed by one of a dozen or so expletives?
Watching a Rangers game in January is usually a sign that I have cabin fever for baseball. But it goes beyond that this time. I finally, after six long, grueling, Daniels-infused years, am looking forward to a Rangers team that has a legitimate shot to compete every game. Andrew Heaney is their fifth starter. In years past, he would be their “ace” and we would go into the season already defeated.
Ironically, also yesterday, Rangers pitcher Taylor Hearn was on MLB Radio. You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy, a more decent and caring human being, a better representation of a player and a man. But, sadly, the perfect example of Rangers starting pitching over the past six years. He started twenty-five games as a Ranger over the last four seasons. He was 8-10 with a 6.36 ERA. And a WHIP so high, NASA needs a telescope to view it.
And Hearn was a success story compared to the long litany of forgotten or trying-to-forget arms the Rangers ran out in the name of Major League Pitching.
Maybe the Rangers won’t get quite the performance out of one of their starters this year than they got from Nolan Ryan in 1991, with his 2.91 ERA and major league best WHIP of 1.006. After all, he was only 44-years-old that year. Still in his prime.
But we should expect a lot more pitchers closer to 1991 Nolan Ryan than to 2017-to-2022 Texas Rangers rotation pitching.
Enough January baseball. Bring on the season.