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Looking Ahead at a Texas-Sized Rangers Starting Rotation

Looking Ahead at a Texas-Sized Rangers Starting Rotation

Jordan Lyles, Mike Foltynewicz, Kolby Allard, Dane Dunning, and Kyle Gibson were your top five starters regarding how many starts were made in the 2021 season. Then, of course, add Taylor Hearn, Kohei Arihara, and Spencer Howard, who each made eight or more starts too, but, my goodness, the rotation changed fifteen months later (Dane Dunning remains the lone wolf in the group). On Thursday, the Rangers introduced another projected starter in the rotation, Nathan Eovaldi coming off a season where he threw 109 innings in twenty starts for the Boston Red Sox.

The Texas Rangers rotation stacks up with Martín Pérez, Jon Gray, Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney, and now Eovaldi. Add to the mix Jake Odorizzi (who the club acquired from Atlanta this off-season), Glenn Otto, Dane Dunning, Cole Ragans, Spencer Howard, and many other options and you have a nightclub VIP guest list worth of starters on the roster. “We have been fortunate that we had a number of talented players that want to be Texas Rangers,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “We knew that we needed multiple starting pitchers, and I think we’ve addressed that, done that, and feel very good about not only the quality but the depth of starting pitching we have coming into the season. Young finished the sentence by saying, “You can never have enough starting pitching,” Young chuckled.

Let’s first look at this Picasso of a rotation that the Rangers built in two off-seasons.

  • Jon Gray is the “rookie” of the bunch with his eight years of service. DeGrom and Heaney have pitched for nine seasons, while Martín and Nathan pitched in eleven seasons (Eovaldi missed the entire 2017 season).
  • Between the five there are six All-Star game appearances despite Gray and Heaney not being selected for an All-Star game
  • Between the five starters, there are 5,546.3 innings logged. The five combined to strike out 5,319 batters, a smidge under one batter per inning.
  • Out of forty-eight combined seasons among the starters, they had twenty-nine seasons of 100+ innings pitched. Eighteen of those seasons included 140+ innings thrown.
  • All five starters are thirty-one or older. Jon Gray is five months younger than Andrew Heaney, who is two months younger than Martín Pérez. Nathan Eovaldi is fourteen months older than Martín but twenty months younger than Jacob deGrom (there won’t be a quiz later).
  • Three of the five starters grew up within four hours of Arlington

An older rotation begs the question of durability, a critique of whether these guys can stay healthy. But, as Nathan Eovaldi said on Thursday, it’s not only about the five guys in the rotation. It’s about everyone else too. “We can’t do it with just the five guys, we have seven, eight, nine guys, but everybody has the right guy ready to come up and help the team to compete,” Eovaldi said. “We have an abundance of starting pitching, and that’s not even reaching to the minor leagues for the arms ready to come up.” So what could be the plan with last year’s starters who await in pitching limbo?

The Rangers may add two previous starters as long relievers to the bullpen. Who that is will depend on Spring Training. If the market is feasible, the club may also exercise a trade involving one of those guys to get an outfield bat. As expected, all five starters feel good and physically ready to go in about six weeks until pitchers report with catchers, but there’s a lot of competition waiting in the wing.

“I view starting pitching as the key to winning a championship,” Eovaldi said. To Nathan’s credit, since 2016 the team that won the World Series finished in the top 10 in MLB in starter ERA, and in three of the last four seasons that team finished 2nd in MLB. “Starting pitching doesn’t just make starting pitching better. It makes the entire team better. It makes the bullpen better, the offense better, [and] the defense better,” Chris Young said. “It engages everybody and creates a mindset when you come to the park every day that you expect to win. Starting pitching is the key to winning.”

Here we are at the tail-end of the winter offseason. The pitching roster vastly changed, compared to the past two seasons, as the front office indicated it would. Now is the time to take the resources the Rangers brought in through free agency (and a few trades) and showcase it to the baseball audience and themselves, to what Nathan Eovaldi said Thursday. “It’s time to prove to the younger guys and the guys that are already here that we can compete and win.”

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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