Bottoming out. 548 comments

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels scours the country for pitching.


After the first four weeks of play, mostly against the American League West, one thing is clear. It’s a one-team division.

To paraphrase the movie Money Ball, you have Houston, then ten feet of crap, then everyone else.

It used to be twenty feet.

Houston isn’t what it was. What it was, was a team with incredible pitching depth. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton.

Morton, Keuchel, and McCullers are gone, due to free agency and injury. Cole is not what Cole was.

The past couple of seasons the Astros ran away with the division because nobody could match their deep rotation.

This year, the Rangers can come close. At the top.

Minor is not Verlander. Lynn is not Cole. But dominating is dominating, and when Minor is on, as he has been in two of his last three starts, he is as unbeatable as Verlander. Not saying he is as good. It’s just that a W from Minor counts the same as a W from Verlander. Cole is off to a slow start. When he has been right, he is miles ahead of Lynn. But this year he is 1-4 with a 4.71 ERA. Lynn is 3-2, 5.45. Not much difference. Certainly not the talent gap advantage Houston has boasted in the past.

The biggest difference, and what will allow the Astros to retain their divisional dominance, is that they didn’t bottom feed to find their bottom three of Colin McHugh, Wade Miley, and Brad Peacock.

The bottom three in the Rangers rotation, on the other hand, are deserving of the term bottom. Through the rotation five full times, a total of fifteen starts, the numbers for the Rangers third, fourth, and fifth starters are abysmal. Pepto-abysmal, in fact.Here are their combined numbers:

Starts: 15
Innings pitched: 54.1
Innings per start: 3.2
Wins: 1
Losses: 4
ERA: 8.95
Earned runs: 52
Hits allowed: 75
Walks: 46
Strikeouts: 39
WHIP: 2.23

To put it in context, if the bottom three were one starter, let’s compare their numbers to some of the worst pitching performance in Rangers history, a history mostly known for bad pitching. Remember Rich Harden, Tanner Scheppers, Luke Jackson, Michael Kirkman, Chan-Ho Park, Kyle Lohse, and the indelibly stamped Tom Wilhemsen? They were aces compared to these three starters whose seasons stand out as monumentally bad.

If there was a Museum of Awful, these three would be in the Main Hall.

Matt Moore’s 2018 season. Suffering through twelve starts, he threw up an ERA of 6.97. His WHIP was 1.657. Yes, threw up was the appropriate term.

Mark Clark’s 1999 season. His 2000 season was just as bad but was cut short by him walking off the mound after one particularly bad start and never coming back.He is single handedly—his right one—responsible for the two worst starting pitcher seasons in Rangers history, maybe even baseball history. In 1999 he had an ERA of 8.60 in 15 starts, with a WHIP of 1.843. His next season, after twelve starts, he piled up an 7.98 with a WHIP of 2.045.

Then there was the 1987 season of Ed Correa.  He made fifteen starts in the Rangers rotation. His ERA was 7.59. His WHIP was 1.929. His mark on history was non-existent.

As putrid as those seasons were, the bottom three slots in the 2019 Rangers rotation are worse than the three worst starters in franchise history.


Taking it one step further, here is where this bottom-of-the-rotation compares to the five-worst single-season ERAs of all-time (Mark Clark didn’t qualify because the Rangers had the decency to put him out of his misery early):

2019 Texas Rangers bottom 3: 8.95
Les Sweetland, 1930 Philadelphia Phillies: 7.71
Jim Deshaies, 1974 Minnesota Twins: 7.93
Jack Knott, 1934 St Louis Browns: 7.29
Jose Lima, 2005 Kansas City Royals: 6.99
LaTroy Hawkins, 1999 Minnesota Twins: 6.66

That’s a lot of bad. In fact, the 2019 Rangers would be better if they had a rotation of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, 2018 Matt Moore, 1999 Mark Clark, and 1987 Ed Correa.

Double yikes.

The good news is that Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle have horrible pitching as well. This offense can certainly hold its own against the mediocre pitching within the division. Even Houston’s. Which is why it’s one game over .500.

It’s too bad the Rangers miscalculated on when they would be competitive again. What they didn’t figure on was that the rest of the division was going to be so beatable.

So now, after they’ve played twenty-two of their first twenty-seven against A.L. West teams, and none against any other American League opponent, it will be curious to see how this team plays against the rest of the league. (It has two more against the National League before finally getting to a non-A.L. West team). Not every opponent will have pitching as bad as Los Angeles, Seattle, and Oakland. But more will than won’t.

It’s too bad the Rangers couldn’t have a bottom of the rotation that didn’t look like the bottom it fell out of was a baby’s.


Jordan Lyles (2-1, 2.05) vs. Adrian Sampson (0-1, 4.50)
Game time: 7:05