Who will be the Rangers' playoff ace?

Rangers vs. Royals

Credit: Getty Images

Yu Darvish has been stellar over his last four starts. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)



WFAA Sports Blogger

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 12 at 10:23 AM

The Rangers are almost a sure thing to make the playoffs and win the AL West. The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels, who sit behind the Rangers by 3 and 7.5 games respectively, are in the midst of a series agains each other. Meanwhile the Rangers are facing the Cleveland Indians, who 'boast' the American League's worst record.

So as we prepare for fall baseball in the metroplex let us examine the options for the Rangers’ open 'playoff ace' position.
I think it’s clear that the two pitchers vying for the role of ace are Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish. Harrison has been considered by many to be more consistent and reliable then Darvish, but let’s take a look at the numbers between the two.
Harrison has started 27 games for the Rangers, 17 of them quality starts and he has a 15-9 record. Darvish has started 26 games for the Rangers, 15 of them being quality starts and has a 14-9 record. Almost dead even between the two.
In 179 innings pitched Harrison gave up 179 hits. Darvish in a 169.2 innings pitched gave up only 141 hits. Darvish however walked 85 batters as opposed to 49 batters walked by Harrison.  But either way their WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) are almost identical: Harrison’s 1.27 versus the 1.33 Darvish owns.
So what is the tie breaker in deciding who will be the Rangers' ace going into a playoff series?
You go with the hot hand, and that currently belongs to Yu Darvish. In his last 4 starts he has posted a 2.17 ERA, 34 strikeouts, walked only 6 and given up only 14 hits, 1 home run, in 29 innings pitched. That’s an average of over 7 innings per game, and even going 8 innings and 7 innings in his last two starts his pitch count was below a hundred in each with a count of 96 and 87 respectively.
Harrison has been every Rangers fans’ perception of consistency over the season but has a 2-2 record in his last four starts. Over that stretch he has a 4.26 ERA over 25.3 innings pitched, 24 hits, 4 walks, with 20 strikeouts.
Yu Darvish will be your ace in the playoffs. 
The only possible exception that I see would be be if they are facing the Detroit Tigers, who are 5 games back from a wild card spot. Detroit struggles against left handed pitchers more than any other playoff contender. In that situation Ron Washington would most likely send Matt Harrison out on the mound in game one.
And isn’t that what the Rangers’ wanted when they let C.J. Wilson go to the Angels and put their money behind Darvish?
Follow Mike Dyce on Twitter at @mikedyce.