Power Ranking the Rotation
You’ve got to admit, since the end of April, it’s been a pretty good and pretty fun to be a Texas Rangers fan. After that dreadful 7-14 start, Jeff Banister‘s crew has played like a team with something to prove, a team with a chip on their shoulder – and let’s face it, they are just that. Coming into the season, the Rangers had been written off as, at best, a third place team. This was even before Yu Darvish and Derek Holland were lost to the DL. Once those two hit the injured reserve list, well, the Rangers were cleared by writers to hit the bottom of the division again. How could a rotation fronted by Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis possibly compete in the stacked AL West?
They are competing. Not only that, the Rangers are contending. It’s a team that’s firing on all cylinders, and a big part of that success has been the starting rotation. The current five, at worst, have kept the Rangers in games, and at best, they’ve been dominant. After Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Royals, Jared Sandler on 105.3 The Fan asked fans to power rank the rotation as it stands right now. It was an fantastic debate, and no two callers had the same order. For what it’s worth, here’s how I see things for the current starting five.
5. Chi-Chi Gonzalez – 2-0, 0.00 ERA
On the surface, that looks silly. Putting a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA at the back end of the rotation seems almost like a waste. Everyone should be aware of the fact that Gonzalez has only made two starts, though. Is he the starting pitcher with the best stuff and highest upside right now? Absolutely, but with just two starts under his belt, it would be a mistake to put him any higher than this right now.
4. Wandy Rodriguez – 3-2, 3.25 ERA
In terms of under the radar acquisitions, Wandy Rodriguez might be the most pleasant surprise that Jon Daniels has picked up. Working on revamping his career, Rodriguez has found a great comfort zone, not only pitching for the Rangers, but also in using his curveball. Rodriguez has thrown his curveball a whopping 35% of his time in 2015, using it to get about half of his strikeouts. That hook has been a monumental weapon in his revival and success in the Rangers organization. His performance thus far could prove to be valuable in the next month or two in more ways than one.
3. Yovani Gallardo – 5-6, 3.54 ERA
The Rangers’ Opening Day starter has been nothing if not a fighter. He’s been consistent, too, maybe not in the way Texas would like, going seven innings just once in his time here, but not going less than five innings except for the actual Opening Day start. Gallardo’s average performance has earned him a spot in the middle of my rotation. It could be argued that he could be flip-flopped with Rodriguez, but Gallardo’s consistency and his involvement with the organization since Spring Training bumped him up to the three spot. The advertisement of a lower strikeout rate exchanged for a higher ground ball ratio has been as expected, and if the Rangers defense can be, well, better, Gallardo will continue to be a stalwart in the rotation…unless something else spurs him elsewhere.
2. Colby Lewis – 5-3, 4.42 ERA
Colby Lewis, the bulldog of bulldogs, the comeback “kid” continues to show that he can make strong starts and make pitches when he needs to to escape trouble. While he will always be home run prone, Lewis still carries himself with the aura of the guy you want on the hill in a pressure spot. Outside of the Cleveland Indians game, in which he gave up 10 runs in 2.2 innings (he’s prone to a start every now and then like that, too), he’s gone at least five innings in his last ten starts and knows how to control the game, even when the momentum seems to be on the other team’s side.
1. Nick Martinez – 5-2, 2.65 ERA
Ace? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but has Nick Martinez been the man when he needed to be the man? Just look at his last start against Oakland – a pitching performance in enemy territory against the other team’s ace, Sonny Gray. He did what he needed to do, which was outlast Gray. The Rangers’ offense scratched out the couple of runs they needed and Martinez made the lead hold up. I have been known to get upset when Yu Darvish would give up one or two runs when his offense couldn’t get things going, but that’s because I believe a guy who is the anchor of the rotation – whether it’s because it was appointed or by default – should do what the team needs him to do. In Oakland, the team needed Martinez to just hold the Athletics at bay. If he had given up two runs, it still would have been a quality start, and probably acceptable, but the game would have been tied by the time he left. Martinez needed to not give up runs, and he didn’t. That’s been Nick Martinez this year – doing what the team needs, and he, thus far, has been the Rangers’ best starting pitcher.
That’s my two cents on how the Rangers current rotation stacks up. Outside of Martinez, there’s a lot of room for interpretation. If all goes well, and the next two and a half months are going to be overwhelmingly full of “What If” questions, this is how the rotation stacks up for the rest of June. Coming up, I guarantee someone on this site is going to analyze just what has to happen with the rotation when the “Lefty Brigade” of Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez return. Until then…is this how your rotation looks?