Based on the Texas Rangers current situation, they will enter spring training and opening day with a starting rotation of Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and either Martin Perez or Justin Grimm. There is still time for them to make a move for a veteran starting pitcher, but regardless of the situation it will be a season where Darvish, Harrison and Holland need to step up. While all three will be important, this is going to be a season where Darvish needs to take a take a step towards becoming that “ace” that the Rangers desperately seek.
When one just looks at first and second half stats for Darvish from 2012, it seems that he struggled during the second half of the season when he went 6-4 with a 4.26 ERA. That was a bit of a drop off from the first half of the season when he was 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA. While that was the case and there is no question that Darvish struggled against teams that he had already faced, that was not the complete story as all of those trends began to change during the final month of the season.
Darvish made five starts in the month of September, going 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.736 WHIP. He had struggled with walks during the season, but in September that changed as he struck out 5.57 batters to every free pass allowed. He faced the Royals for the first time during September, but he also faced the Rays for the second time, the Mariners for the fourth time and the Angels for the fifth and sixth times. The theory that Darvish was ineffective against teams he had already faced was out the window and he was pitching like the “ace” the Rangers hoped they had signed.
The Rangers have been in desperate need of an “ace” for years and in 2013 it will be as important as ever that they have one. There is no guarantee that another veteran starter will be added and expecting Matt Harrison to repeat his 2012 season might be asking a bit too much. Hopefully Derek Holland can rebound and Alexi Ogando does not have any major setbacks from a season back in the bullpen, but the most important thing will be consistency from Darvish.
There are plenty of opinions on what the definition of an “ace” are and I am definitely in the company that believes that there are fewer of them in the big leagues than there are eggs in a carton. An “ace” has to go out and give his team the opportunity to win the game virtually every time out and dominate a good share of them. Darvish was making those strides during the end of 2012 and continuing that trend will be essential in 2013. Consistency from him will be important, because it is not clear how much consistency is going to come from other areas, especially the starting rotation.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough’s knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia’s uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.