6 Reasons Why the Rangers Will Win the 2012 World Series (Part 2)
#4. Starting Pitching-Last season, the Rangers’ starting pitchers all won at-least 13 games and had a 3.64 ERA as a starting staff. CJ Wilson lead that bunch in both wins and ERA, and he is now gone. However, you might have heard that the Rangers have exclusive negotiating rights with Yu Darvish. If he signs, and there’s no reason to expect that he won’t, the Rangers have effectively replaced Wilson with a more dominant pitcher who Major League hitters have yet to see. His career ERA is a sparkling 1.99 in 7 seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters, and even if this goes up a full run, he is no worse than CJ Wilson.
The other ace-caliber pitcher (not including Alexi Ogando or Neftali Feliz), is Derek Holland. Holland lead the American League in shutouts and tied for the league lead in complete games in 2011. If Holland and Darvish develop into aces, the Rangers staff can go toe-to-toe with the Phillies and Angels in having the best starting staff in baseball.
Neftali Feliz is unproven as a major league starter, but he will be given every opportunity to succeed. He had success in the minors as a starter but was converted to a closer because the Rangers needed a closer at the time. Lets also not forget that Feliz regularly hits 100 MPH on the radar gun, and that he is still only 23 years old. Matt Harrison was solid if unspectacular as a starter, but his 14 wins and 3.39 ERA in 2011 vouch for his effectiveness. Colby Lewis will likely come out of Spring Training as the Opening Day starter unless something drastic happens to him. This battle-tested veteran has posted a career 2.34 ERA in 50 innings pitched in the postseason, making him a very valuable asset come October. With Lewis, Holland, Harrison, Darvish, and Feliz as the starters, this makes 2 former starters-Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando-relief pitchers. At a moment’s notice, either one of those guys can make a spot start. The Rangers have something rare at the big league level-proven starting pitching in the bullpen on the 25 man roster. At some point, the Rangers will likely need one of those guys. Feldman won 17 games in 2009, and Ogando was dominant as a starter through June of last season before tailing off slightly late.
The Rangers’ good starting pitching is one of the reasons why they have been so successful in the previous two seasons, and it seems now is though it has gotten better.
#5. The Bullpen-The additions since July 2011 have turned an above average bullpen into shutdown bullpen. As currently constructed, the Rangers have 4 closer-quality pitchers on their 25 man roster in Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams, and Joe Nathan. Obviously, Feliz will be a starter this season. Alexi Ogando is the most versatile pitcher the Rangers have. If the Rangers had to do it, they could make Ogando a starting pitcher, set-up man, or closer this season. Ogando’s greatest value in 2012 though is as an over-powering 7th inning guy, and this is where he is most likely to land. That leaves Adams and Nathan. Adams has a career ERA of 2.11 in 7 seasons as a big leaguer, and was being groomed to take Heath Bell’s spot in San Diego as the closer. He has been compared to Mariano Rivera with his cut fastball, and this makes him equally effective against both left-handed and right-handed batters. Adams will be the set-up man most games for closer Joe Nathan. When healthy, Nathan is a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. From 2004-2009, he amassed 246 saves with an ERA of 1.87 during that time span. Nathan will provide the Rangers with a lethal dagger who has been in many duels, and his experience will help win some games that might otherwise be lost.
In baseball, the last 9 outs are the toughest ones to get. Guys are at the plate aware of the fact that this could be their last at-bat, and are usually more willing to do more things to get on base. This is where having elite-level players in the bullpen is vital to a team who has aspirations of winning the World Series. The Rangers have those pieces in place.
#6. It’s Time-Over the past 2 seasons, the Rangers have played in 33 post-season games, and most of their deep core is in place for the 2012 season. This is a group of players who know how to win in the regular season and in the playoffs, and they are not likely to see much they haven’t already. What makes the Rangers truly unique is that they have accrued so much playoff experience with a team that should stay largely in-tact for at least the next 2 seasons. This gives them a large window with relatively young players to claim baseball’s biggest prize. In fact, they will probably be one of the favorites to win the 2013 World Series as well. The Rangers are a team who’s ready to sip the sweetest champagne (or ginger ale), and they have all of the parts necessary to win the 2012 World Series. Their experience, stellar infield defense, machine-like offense, and depth of pitching make this a team that should be expected to win the World Series.
“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.” –Joe Garagiola
Lindsey Day is a Staff Writer for Shutdowninning.com. Email him at email@example.com or reach him on Twitter @SDILindsey.