Heartbreak and disappointment have been a theme for the Texas Rangers over the past several years.
After narrowly missing two world championship opportunities, the Rangers have failed to win a playoff game in the past two seasons, despite having one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball.
The Rangers spent even more cash this off season in hopes of regaining a foothold in the MLB playoff picture.
Texas signed Shin-Soo Choo and traded away Ian Kinsler for power hitter Prince Fielder, who will take over at first base for the Rangers.
Texas will go into 2014 with a strong lineup boasting the likes of Alex Rios, the always dependable Adrian Beltre, and the promising Jurickson Profar starting at second base now that Kinsler is gone.
The Rangers will field a veteran lineup loaded with big hitters, but that is not where the problems reside. Hitting is only part of the game.
Texas has one of the best pitchers in baseball, if not the best, in Yu Darvish. Darvish will be a productive asset for this staff for years to come.
The problem is with the depth of the starting rotation. Darvish is an outstanding pitcher and an ace for any club, but there isn’t much behind him.
Matt Harrison, the opening day starter from last season, has been plagued by injury over the last two years and may not have his same stuff this year.
Alexi Ogando has shown promise at times, but has yet to prove his reliability at the major league level, winning only seven games last season.
The Rangers are hoping that 22 year-old Martin Perez will step up this season as the number two man. Perez carries a career ERA over four, but did manage to win 10 games in 20 starts last season for the Rangers.
The bullpen remains strong with Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria as the set up man and closer, respectively, for the club.
Here’s my preseason prediciton of American League’s west division standings:
- Oakland Athletics
- Texas Rangers
- Anaheim Angels
- Seattle Mariners
- Houston Astros
Texas has the strongest starting lineup in the division, but the pitching is what makes the difference between first and second place here.
Oakland just has too much young talent in its starting rotation. For example, 24 year-old sophomore pitcher Sonny Gray who dazzled in last year’s post season against the Detroit Tigers.
The A’s won’t score 760 runs as they did last season on the way to a division title. The difference will come in the months of August and September. The Rangers have too many unpredictable and unhealthy arms in the starting rotation to be certain that all of them can hold up through the lengthy 162-game season.
We may see Texas opt for a midseason acquisition to bolster the rotation if the season is going well through May. But for now, the starting rotation is a sign of weakness and will need to improve for the Rangers to reach the postseason.