Patrick Despain is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and co-host of the Pine Tar Podcast. He can be reached on Twitter
Rangers' pitching problems don't end after 2014
We have all witnessed the pitching woes the Rangers have in their starting rotation. With Derek Holland coming back later this month or in July, a significant upgrade will occur and Jon Daniels can ship Nick Martinez or Nick Tepesch to the minors to continue to progress in their development. That leaves Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Joe Saunders, and one of the Nicks as the starting five once Holland returns.
Looking ahead to 2015, as of right now, the locked in starting five looks like Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, and three question marks. Martin Perez (coming off of Tommy John surgery) will not be ready to start the season, Colby Lewis is 35-year-old free agent who hasn't recorded a quality start this season, and Matt Harrison's career in an unknown after having spinal fusion surgery on June 3. Martinez and Tepesch are simply not ready, and the Joe Saunders experiment will be over after the season.
Perusing the 2015 MLB free agents, the only names that jump out are Jon Lester and Max Scherzer. Lester will be 31 next year and has a 6.35 ERA in Arlington in the last three years. Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner, will be 30 years old, has a 5.73 ERA in Arlington, and will command a monster contract. The Rangers may have to look at other names.
Of the remaining free agent starters, only Yovani Gallardo, Brett Anderson, Wei-Yen Chen, and Johnny Cueto will be under 30 years of age, and all of those pitchers have a club option remaining on their contract. The Rangers may only look to sign a couple of free agents on one year deals to fill the void until Luke Jackson and/or Alex 'Chi Chi' Gonzalez are ready to pitch at the Major League level.
The other option is to trade someone for pitching. Giving up young prospects seems to be a thing of the past for the Rangers front office. Trading a veteran may be an option, however the value of the veteran players may get back a quality pitcher with the respective contract statuses and ages of the highest-valued Rangers.
With out some move(s) by Jon Daniels, next year may be tough too.
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