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What went wrong with the Rangers hyped up starting rotation?

Photo: Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire

What went wrong with the Rangers hyped up starting rotation?

For a brief few months, between both spring trainings and during the shutdown, they were the talk of the town. Heck, they were getting a lot of exposure and praise from the national media. I’m referring to the Texas Rangers starting five pitchers. Lance Lynn and Mike Minor had returned and with them were newcomers Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Rangers G.M. Jon Daniels had managed to do the unthinkable: He had overhauled the pitching staff and had attained genius level again in the minds of the media and fans alike. A lot of writers wrote about those five saying that not only was it the best rotation in the AL West but also a top five in all of baseball.

So what went wrong? Let’s look at it like a car.

The first wheel to come off came in the form of Corey Kluber. He had a great spring and in his first and only appearance of the season he looked great. That lasted one inning. To quote the Usual Suspects “…and just like that he was gone.” A grade two muscle tear in his shoulder meant he was likely going to miss the entire season. If this were a normal season we would see him return with around 100 games left. But we all know this is no normal season.

The second wheel to falter is in the pitching arm of Mike Minor who has seen a dramatic drop-off in his velocity. As a result his numbers are up and not in a good way. His current ERA (5.60) is the highest it’s been since his rookie season and his FIP (4.85) is a career high. His strikeout percentage is actually up over the last two seasons at 8.9 per nine innings but so is his walk percentage at 3.3 per nine innings, his worst since 2011. He also has a career high in HR/9 at 1,8. Before this season it had never been above 1.43.

The rear wheels, Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson, have had their good starts and their bad starts but neither one has been consistent. Both have ERA’s over 5. Both are allowing almost 3 1/2 walks per game and both are allowing a high number of home runs.

Then you have the spare tire (by no means am I calling him a “spare”) which was put on when Kluber left. That is Kolby Allard. He has also had an up and down season but that can be forgiven because he is still young and has been thrust back into the spotlight. I do like what I see of him and believe he will be a solid part of this rotation in 2021 and will be joined in the future by Cole Winn and Brock Burke. That is barring some trade that could happen this weekend.

The only consistent has been Lance Lynn, the engine of the rotation if you will. He is currently having one of his best seasons at 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA, 3.37 FIP and BAPiP against of .189. If not for a lack of run support from the offense he would have more wins. Still, though, he is putting together a Cy Young award season.

So what could be the cause? Knowing that pitchers are a creature of habit I tend to look at the season starting then stopping then starting again. A lot of pitchers throughout the league have suffered injuries with the biggest name being the Astros’ Justin Verlander, but I like to think of that as karma. Combine that with the fact that Kluber, Lyles and Gibson have all had surgery in the past couple of seasons and it seems to make more sense.

For now, we just have to ride out the rest of the season.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!…socially distancing six feet away.

James Holland is a credentialed staff writer for Dallas Sports Fanatic. He's a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He's a member of SABR and Fangraphs because he craves ALL the data. He's also a karaoke addict who hosts shows at his favorite bar in Arlington.

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