Spring Training approaches and there’s one set piece for the Rangers: their starting rotation. Texas signed a couple of players, Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson, and traded for Corey Kluber. Gibson is currently under a three-year contract, Lyles is under Rangers control for two years, and Kluber is in Texas control this season with a 2021 team option. Once Texas completed the trade for Kluber, the Rangers’ rotation looked set, but there are a few slight issues with the projected starting five.
Four righties and one left-hander?
If the Rangers go with this rotation projection, they will stack up four straight right-handed starters with Mike Minor being the only lefty in the mix. It makes preparing for the Rangers easier with a team’s lineup. Managers strategically align their offensive lineup to keep a pitcher from being too comfortable, and now managers can adjust by stacking day after day with left-handed hitters. If you combine all four right-handed pitchers, left-handers hit .277 combined (280 for 1,011) compared to a .232 average for right-handed hitters (265 for 1,142).
Dirty Thirty a Theme
The Rangers have four starting pitchers in their rotation who’ve celebrated their thirty-second birthday. Minor, Lynn, and Gibson all are 32 years old, Kluber is 33, and Jordan Lyles hits the big 3-0 in October this year. Overall, the rotation has 41 total seasons, and 927 starts combined between the five. While the experience is fantastic, the Rangers are still building for the future. Last season the club got a taste of youth with Kolby Allard, Brock Burke, Joe Palumbo, and Jonathan Hernandez. I wouldn’t be shocked to see one of these guys as a trade piece come July if the Rangers try to upgrade a couple of positions like third base and maybe center field.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 22, 2019
What’s the solution?
Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the fifth spot open in Spring Training for a young left-handed starter. Depending on how the club plans on executing the home opener March 31st against the Angels, Texas may opt-out of a fifth starter until the Rays series rather than giving the fifth starter the inaugural Globe Life Field regular-season game. I’d assume Mike Minor would get his regular four days rest after starting opening day to take the hill that following Tuesday. The other option is giving Kluber either Opening Day or the home opener. I wouldn’t be shocked to see if someone like Kolby Allard earns the spot with either Gibson or Lyles taking the long relief role in the bullpen.
Kolby Allard produced a 2.6 Barrel% in 2019. That ranked 1st among starting pitchers from when he was called up. pic.twitter.com/0mUbHyCOG1
— SP Streamer (@SPStreamer) November 18, 2019
Don’t be fooled, there’s more to sort out in the Rangers rotation, and of course, injuries can occur at any time. It’ll be curious to see if Corey Kluber is at full strength for Spring Training. Kluber’s assures he’s good to go, but it’ll be nine and a half months since he took the hill against big leaguers. Now to be clear, these five have showed success in the past and provide a strong combination. However, I feel the variety could strengthen the Rangers rotation. Be on the lookout for a few young left-handed pitchers bidding for that last starting role; Spring Training is on the horizon.
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