Yes, looking at the Rangers through the rearview mirror hasn’t been cheerful. There are train wrecks everywhere. Three seasons in a row of carnage.
But the encouraging news is, the road ahead doesn’t need to be a brick wall. The Rangers can be competitive in just a couple simple moves.
What did the 2019 World Series remind us of? Starting pitching is the king. The Nationals had four quality starters. The Astros three. The Nationals won the World Series four games to three.
Coincidence? Not at all.
Bullpenning and this constant parade of relievers coming out of the pen can win you games in the regular season when you are playing the remedial teams like Baltimore and Seattle and Texas and Detroit.
But to play championship-caliber baseball, you need quality starting pitcher. Ask Boston. That lineup with Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers that won it all in 2018 wasn’t able to repeat because their starting pitching let them down.
Luckily, the Rangers are halfway there. Texas had two of the better starting pitchers in baseball in Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. The rest of their starters were as appealing as soggy cereal soaked in spoiled milk. But if the Rangers are able to snag two more quality starters, honest-to-goodness bona-fide arms, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they would have the best rotation in the division. Houston is losing Cole. Los Angeles and Seattle are a mess. Oakland is the sleeping giant here.
But pitching can help Texas overcome all their swing-and-miss offense.
It’s not going to win them a World Series because sending guys like Guzman and Mazara and Odor and Andrus out there in October is like going into a battle with a butter knife.
But with four top-of-the-rotation starters, (imagine a rotation of, say, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Mike Minor, and Lance Lynn) they can easily be a .500 team as they start the process of purging the deadwood in the lineup. And, who knows, within a season or two, they could be playing for October again.
It starts with starting pitching. And, in that department, the Rangers, surprisingly, have a head start.