Friday, March 22, 2013

MAKING THE PITCH: Texas Rangers

Nolan Ryan and the Rangers lost a few big bats, but their pitching stays
pretty much intact for 2013.
(photo courtesy of Mike McCann's Field of Fotos)


Felipe M

We take a look at the projected starting rotations and closer situations of every MLB team.  Of course, this will come from a fantasy perspective.  All cited stats are based on 2013 projections.  


Now the Texas Rangers are up on stage.  

PROBABLE STARTING ROTATION
  1. Matt Harrison
    • Good: It was announced yesterday that Harrison will be the Rangers' opening day starter for 2013.  He won 18 games last season and has pitched very well this spring.  
    • Bad: His projected numbers show that Harrison is anything, but an "ace" for any pitching staff.  More of a pitch-to-contact pitcher, K/BB of 2.13 not only shows a laughable strikeout total (K/9 of 5.86 similar to Erasmo Ramirez's), but possible control problems.  WHIP of 1.31 (also identical to Ramirez and A.J. Burnett) is further proof that he should not be considered an elite pitcher.  Currently ranked between Jason Vargas and Kyle Kendrick; both are bottom of the rotation starters for their respective teams.
  2. Yu Darvish
    • Good: The "real" ace of the staff, Darvish came through with a strong finish to 2012.  He's also had a dominant spring.  K/9 of 9.70, WHIP of 1.15 and a 3:1 K/BB just screams "ACE!"
    • Bad: It remains to be seen if Darvish can pitch a full season of cosistent baseball. BB/9 of 3.04 is a slight concern, but not enough to sound the alarm on the Japanese hurler.  
  3. Derek Holland
    • Good: K/9 of 7.66 is more than respectable (similar to Jarrod Parker's K/9).  
    • Bad: Although he won't give up too many walks, he can be hittable.  WHIP of 1.26 puts him behin pitchers like Tim Hudson and Wade Miley.
  4. Alexi Ogando
    • Good: Has had a pretty decent spring, more good than bad. 8.14 K/9 makes him an intriguing pitcher. 
    • Bad: Really hard to figure out if his projected numbers are a product of his relief role from last season or if publications really believe that he can streamline those numbers as a starter.  Also will be pitching in his first full season as a starter since 2011 so injuries and fatigue will be a concern throughout the year.
CLOSER
  1. Joe Nathan
    • Good: 10.29 K/9 along with a 4.80 K/BB makes him a near-elite closer.
    • Bad: Age and a terrible spring might hurt his stock.  
FANTASY ADVICE

Player
K/BB
K/9
BB/9
H/9
WHIP
HR/A
Yu Darvish
3.19
9.70
3.04
7.35
1.15
0.83
Alexi Ogando
3.23
8.14
2.52
8.14
1.18
1.09
Derek Holland
2.73
7.66
2.81
8.51
1.26
1.07
Matt Harrison
2.13
5.86
2.76
9.00
1.31
0.90

So based on these stats, which of these players should be the ace of the staff?  I didn't like Harrison last season, and I especially don't like him now, but if you think he can repeat his 18-win performance from last year, by all means.  I've never liked Holland either, but he can prove to be an asset in 2013.  

Ogando is the most interesting pitcher listed.  As mentioned, his numbers might be a by-product of his success as a reliever and it's hard to predict if those numbers will translate as a starter.  His numbers alone make him a 2nd-tier starter.  But his 2011 stats might be the best indicator as to what we can expect in 2013: K/9 below 7; K/BB of 2.93.  He also managed a WHIP of 1.14 that year as well so his 2013 projected WHIP might indeed be accurate.  Nevertheless, fatigue might play a big role this season and makes him somewhat of a risk.  He's still worth the risk if he can pitch close to those projections in the 1st half of the season.  

Joe Nathan is confident that his struggles in the spring should not be a concern.  In the event that his bad spring follows him in April and May, Jason Frasor might take over 9th inning duties for him. 

Neftali Feliz is still recovering from Tommy John Surgery.  He's not expected back until early August and that's very optimistic thinking.

The only pitcher worth reaching to anchor your #1 or #2 spot is Yu Darvish.  The numbers speak for themselves and are on par with his "real life" capabilities.  It's a crime that he will not be pitching on Opening Day, but so it goes.  

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