An Ace Is Born


Most athletes never fully realize their potential.  But for the rare few who do, there’s almost always a seminal moment in which that realization takes place and becomes apparent to all.  That moment may have just happened for one of your Texas Rangers.
Heading into last year’s postseason, it seemed as if the Rangers might have found their long-elusive ace in the form of C.J. Wilson, but his playoff performance proved that was not the case.  He left the Rangers for the Angels in the offseason, and now the Angels are discovering that not only is Wilson not an ace, he may not even be a reliable #3.

After last year’s postseason, it seemed as if the perpetually underachieving Derek Holland had finally figured it all out and was poised to emerge into the ace the Rangers had hoped for years he would finally become.  But 2012 has proven to be yet another in a series of maddeningly inconsistent seasons for Holland (with the second half of 2011 being the temporarily tantalizing exception).

During this past offseason, it seemed as if the Rangers had won the rights to their future ace when they signed Japanese phenom Yu Darvish.  And while Darvish has dazzled at times, his performance has been largely erratic – especially his control.  Until he can consistently find the strike zone and stop walking so many batters, the title of ace will remain out of his grasp.

The one member of the Rangers’ starting rotation who has never really been considered ace material is Matt Harrison.  When he was initially acquired by Texas as part of the blockbuster Mark Teixeira deal, now considered baseball’s version of the Herschel Walker trade, others like Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were considered the truly valued pieces of that transaction.

But while Andrus and Feliz experienced almost immediate success upon their arrival in Arlington, Harrison’s development has been much more gradual.  Though he wasn’t an overnight sensation, Harrison has avoided the regressions that have plagued Holland by maintaining his focus and continuing to improve each season.  That improvement culminated Friday in the greatest night of his career: the night Matt Harrison became an ace – the ace this team has been searching for all along.

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at or on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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