The Rangers’ 2011 Rotation

The Rangers have said they would like to re-sign Cliff Lee after the season and who can blame them? Even though Lee has posted a 4.69 ERA and dealt with a sore back since the Mariners traded him to Texas, he can still be dominant. He has issued just four unintentional walks with the Rangers and struck out 72, so the former Cy Young Award winner is doing something right, in spite of the higher-than-expected ERA.

But lots of teams will want Lee, who figures to be the most highly-coveted free agent starter this offseason. Under new, stable ownership the Rangers have shown signs that they are intent on winning now and are willing to spend. The club traded prospects away to make midseason acquisitions and claimed Manny Ramirez despite his substantial salary.

The Rangers' aggressiveness suggests we shouldn’t count them out of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, but even if they lose their ace to free agency, the Rangers will have four capable starters.

Tommy Hunter, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson and Derek Holland were not sure things earlier in the season, but all have built strong cases to remain in next year’s rotation. Hunter had appeared in just 22 major league games going into 2010, but he has since posted a 3.99 ERA and has only allowed 2.5 BB/9. Like many current AL West starters, the 24-year-old has handled major league bats early on in his career.

It took a while for Lewis to figure big league hitters out, but he has become a resounding success for GM Jon Daniels since returning from Japan. So far in 2010, Lewis has a 3.96 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.

Wilson, a converted reliever, has also become a staple in Ron Washington’s rotation this year. The 29-year-old had not started a major league game since 2005 when the Rangers added him to their rotation this spring, but he has responded well. He leads the American League in walks, but has a 3.10 ERA and 7.4 K/9.

Derek Holland, who recently replaced Rich Harden in the rotation, strung together 11 dominant starts in Triple A before joining the big league club. He has a 4.93 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in the majors, and the lefty’s still just 23.

The Rangers and Harden have an $11MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout for 2011 and it seems probable that the team will choose to buy the right-hander out. Harden, now in the ‘pen, has walked 6.0 per nine and has a 5.36 ERA. Even if Harden and Lee depart, the Rangers have an assortment of starters to consider if they choose to fill their fifth rotation spot internally:

  • Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner a year ago, has a 5.43 ERA and is now on the disabled list.
  • Matt Harrison, a 25-year-old lefty with a 3.93 ERA already has extensive experience as a starter.
  • Omar Beltre, also on the DL, had a 2.65 ERA in the minors this year, though he struggled in a pair of major league starts.
  • Michael Kirkman, who has been excellent out of the Rangers’ pen recently, posted a 3.09 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9. Before the season, Baseball America suggested the left-hander could become a workhorse starter in a major league rotation.
  • Brandon McCarthy missed significant time with a shoulder injury this year, but pitched well in Triple A. He makes $1.3MM now, so he won’t come cheap if the Rangers tender him a contract in 2011.
  • Neftali Feliz has value out of the bullpen and will be even more important in the late innings if Frank Francisco leaves via free agency. Still, Feliz has the stuff to be a number one starter.
  • Other starting pitching prospects, like Martin Perez, Joseph Wieland and Neil Ramirez, are further away from contributing to the big league rotation.

Bringing Lee back would keep things simple. The Rangers then trot him out on Opening Day 2011 and follow him with Wilson, Lewis, Hunter and, if he earns the spot in Spring Training, Holland. The Rangers have options even if they don’t sign Lee, but retaining the lefty would give them an ace atop the rotation.

54 Responses to The Rangers’ 2011 Rotation Leave a Reply

  1. baseballdude 5 years ago

    they are not resigning lee

    • The_Porcupine 5 years ago

      Is there any specific reason that they won’t? I know he hasn’t been the stud pitcher they were expecting.

    • hiheat32 5 years ago

      Why are you hating on the Rangers so much? Are you just jealous that we have a good young core and the best player in baseball locked up until at least 2012? Are you mad that the ownership situation is solidified and we can now afford free agents? Are you nervous that the Rangers are only going to get better with all of their flame throwers in the minors? Or are you just retarded?

      • daze 5 years ago

        Wow, someone is a little defensive. I’m pretty sure he meant what everyone but Rangers fans believe… the Yankees have the money that the Rangers won’t have. Besides, Cliff Lee will probably want to play for a team that doesn’t melt down the stretch.

        • baseballdude 5 years ago

          exactly what i mean

        • 02waster 5 years ago

          So that means he’s not going to the Yankees, who the Rangers beat? Hmmm, interesting case.

      • moonraker45 5 years ago

        I agree with him.. although i don’t doubt texas would pony up the money and compete with the big boys.. i dont think lee would resign in texas.. He hasn’t performed well. Its not a pitchers park, the heat is deadly. i just can’t envision him wanting to stick around and be a 4+ era pitcher where he essentially dominates in so many other divisions.

      • coachofall 5 years ago

        When did Pujols…i mean cabrera….i mean Votto start playing for Texas? I must be mistaken i thought you said the best player in baseball

        • moonraker45 5 years ago

          you lost all credibility when you mention Votto. Its not like he said Nick swisher is the best player in baseball. He said (implied) Josh Hamilton, who at this point is playing at a level just as high as Pujols and cabrera.

          So while I wouldn’t necessarily call him the best player in baseball.. I would at least rank him amongst the top.

          • coachofall 5 years ago

            Ahhhh the mighty Moonraker has spoken let me bow down. He referenced the “Best player in Baseball is under team control until 2012″ I would argue that most GM’s in baseball would take Pujols, Cabrera and yes even Votto for the next two years over Hamilton. Not based on his natural talent but based on the fact that Hamilton has missed more games over the last years than anyone else on the list. Great player when on the field? No question. Best player in baseball for the next two years? Not in my book

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            Right, but the guy isn’t completely off, like i said Hamilton is up there. . I still think Votto has a lot more to prove to be mentioned in the same sentence as Cabrera and Pujols.

          • coachofall 5 years ago

            fair enough, that being said. Votto is essentially producing the same he did last year and is 26. Hamilton is hitting 100 points higher than last year and is 29. Hamilton has played has missed the equivelant of a full season in his 4 year career. I have a hard time putting him up in the elite category as well.

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            Well his BA has always been high, but his slg/ops are up this year. He’s definitely hitting for more power. . I think given Hamilton’s history its hard to properly diagnose if he will at some random point fall off the face of the earth OR continue to be a .300/.400/.550 type of player with 35 HRs.. i do agree that it is far too premature to call him the best player in baseball. He had a terrible year last year, but his 2008 season he was .304/.371./.530 with 32 Hr’s… Plus one factor that hasn’t been added is that he plays a premium position but is still slugging at a 1b’s rate.

          • jwsox 5 years ago

            actully josh im pretty sure if having a better year, not by much, but a slightly better year than albert..put it this way josh is ONE OF the best players in the game…and easily the best out fielder in the game

      • baseballdude 5 years ago

        why is saying lee is not going to resign with the rangers “hating”??

  2. The_Porcupine 5 years ago

    I would not go into next season assuming Hunter is penciled in as a starter. Somehow I just feel he’ll pull a Feldman and stink up the joint. I’d pencil in Wilson and Lewis, try to resign Lee (though he has not been that good for the Rangers) and try to find a reasonable #4 starter either in trade or free agency (maybe a B. Myers or J. Vazquez type pitcher). Let Feldman, Hunter, Holland, etc. fight it out for the last spot in the rotation, then put the losers in the bullpen. I personally hate relying on someone like Holland, Hunter, or Feldman (or someone equally unproven) to hold down more than 1 spot in the rotation.

    • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

      I believe Myers signed a extension with Houston

  3. I think they’ll resign him.

  4. Ian_Smell 5 years ago

    I thought that when they got Feliz he was eventually going to be a starter. Is that going to happen?

  5. I’d be a bit surprised to see the Rangers resign him but I don’t doubt they’ll try. If Lee is intent on getting the most money, which he seems to be, and if the Yankees are serious about getting him, which they seem to be, nothing is going to stand in the way. Seems like a forgone conclussion. I’d give the Yankees a 75% chance, the Rangers a 5% chance and the rest of the league 20%.

  6. MadmanTX 5 years ago

    Huh…expected all the Yank fans to show up bragging about Cliff Lee is going to be with them next season. I wouldn’t be so sure. If it comes down to being on a competitive team, it’s a push. If it comes down to money, I think the Rangers can offer more unless the Yanks are going to increase their payroll another $100 mil to add Lee and all these new players they covet every off season.I can see Wilson, Hunter and Lewis for sure in the rotation next year. If Lee re-signs, then that leaves one spot open and it will be Holland and Feldman probably competing for it, though I would not rule out some competition from Feliz trying to make his case to start and Michael Kirkman, who has shown at AAA and now in the bullpen that he is a very capable pitcher who deserves a crack at being a full-time starter. I dunno about chasing trades or free agents this off-season. I don’t see anybody available unless the Rangers can convince a team like the Astros to give them Wandy Rodriguez for some farm talent to help their rebuilding effort. Maybe give the Astros McCarthy or Harrison.

    • I’m a Yank fan. If we get Lee, that’s cool. If we don’t that’s still cool because we have underrated, legit starters in the Minors in Banuelos, Betances, Brackman, and David Phelps. Banuelos is just 19 and he’s in Double-A, that’s scary.

  7. pmclean83 5 years ago

    Not even a mention of Tanner Scheppers? I know he was being groomed as a reliever for this season but I thought they liked him as a SP.

  8. pmclean83 5 years ago

    Not even a mention of Tanner Scheppers? I know he was being groomed for the bullpen this season but I thought they viewed him as a SP long term.

  9. If the Yankees do sign him they’ll over pay like always: Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa how did that work out for them? A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez not much better.

    Its just plain foolish to sign a pitcher to a projected deal like Lee might get of 18-20 mil a year, and at probably four years.

    • Wouldn’t pay Lee that much. His value has had to go down since he hasn’t exactly dominated with Texas. Besides he has no leaverage with them anyway. The Yanks have a deep farm system and we have some legit starters.

    • moonraker45 5 years ago

      And what about CC, Andy?

      • What’s to say about them? CC will be the Yankees ace and #1 pitcher for the next 6-7 years, and Andy will probably retire after the season, even if I want him back for at least one more year after this one. Hope you’re not talking about contract because CC has already stated he would not opt out, and Andy of course has leaverage to the Yankees If he wants to come back because of the great season he’s had. So far you can really only pencil in CC, Hughes(Move him in front of A.J. for next year, Please!!) and A.J.

        • moonraker45 5 years ago

          I meant what about CC and Andy as deals that have worked out, as a rebuttal to mikes claim

          • Well CC let’s see… He’s won 19 games in each of his first two seasons with the Bombers, is the innings eater that the Yanks desperately needed, he pitched brilliantly during the postseason, so I dunno moonraker, has he worked out?

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            you’re dense. .. that was my point that CC HAS worked out nicely.. can you read at all? or do you just like to argue?

          • You wern’t making your point clear then, it sounds like you were asking how did the sabathia deal work out.

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            “I meant what about CC and Andy as deals that have worked out, as a rebuttal to mikes claim”Sounds like you’re a tad insecure. Do you know what rebuttal means?

  10. RedbirdRuffian 5 years ago

    Rangers are finally starting to get it, there is no such thing as too much good pitching. That said, Lee will price himself out of their range and end up on a team desperate for pitching like the Brewers or Cubs or even Mariners. Rangers have some young guys that are major league ready now that should be able to step right in, and some guys that could be in a rotation elsewhere. Lee seems to be reverting to his pre 2007 form, and could be the next Barry Zito, a big contract with an average performance.

    • Why would Lee go back to the Mariners, he’s most likely going to end up a Yankee, his wife and CC’s wife are looking for a house for the Lee family in New York, and he won’t become a Zito type, Lee is better right now than Zito ever was, plus you aren’t going to last a long time with a below average Fastball, decent change-up, thats the reason Zito sucks

  11. Guest 5 years ago

    I’m not sure where everyone digs up these theories about Lee hating playing for the Rangers. Or the Rangers melting down the stretch. The Rangers have been hampered by injuries the last month or so (including Lee), but they’ll be fine by the postseason. Since they have about an 8 game lead, they’re just taking the conservative route with these guys and letting them rest and heal. Unless someone breaks a bone or something in the next month, why don’t all you haters wait before you declare the Rangers as having “melted” down the stretch

    As for Lee resigning, I feel like everyone is trying to find every reason for him not to resign in TX. Keep this simple: what does every free agent want? He’ll want to be paid, he’ll want to win, and he’ll want a no trade clause. The Rangers can offer him all three plus the opportunity to play close to his home in Arkansas. Plus he does in fact have some good friends on the team (as opposed to being a miserable loner, which I’ve heard people use as an excuse). Honestly, the only way I see him walking is if another team (likely the Yankees) offers a rediculous contract that they’d be fools to match. That’s obviously a real possibility, and if that happened I’d have no problem moving on. But otherwise you have to like the Rangers chances here

    Lastly, Cliff Lee is not a wuss. I seriously doubt the TX heat will be a priority for him in this deal. If this was AJ Burnett we’re talking about, then maybe you’d have a point. But Lee is a guy who seems to pride himself on being a workhorse, and I have a hard time seeing him not resign w/ the Rangers just b/c it’s too hot during the summer (although admittedly, it is bad).

    And for the record…Mike Kirkman has looked extremely good so far out of the pen. I would love to see him get the 5th starter job next spring if Lee walks

    • moonraker45 5 years ago

      He’s 2-5 with a 4.69 era in 11 starts so far. . If the heat doesn’t fuel his decisions surely his success in a hitters park might. His era for August is over 6… if he doesn’t find success down the stretch, whether it be the heat, the ballpark, the catcher or the colour of his shirt, you can’t say it wont influence his decision down the stretch

      • Guest 5 years ago

        His era this year at the Ballpark at Arlington is 3.66, w/ 42 ks to 1 bb and a .228 OBA. The era is high (for him), but his other numbers certainly don’t indicate a problem w/ the heat/ballpark to me

        As for his recent performance, he’s been pitching through some sort of back problem his past few starts, and I think that’s why his stats have taken a beating. He received a shot for it over the weekend though, and is supposed to be ready to start again by next weekend. As a side note, he experienced a similar slump in August last year w/ the Phillies only to finish strong in September and obviously, in October. And besides, Philadelphia has a hitter friendly ballpark as well, and you didn’t hear much debate about his ability to pitch there

  12. Backup_Slider 5 years ago

    What’s with this plague of apostrophes in front of “pen” these days? This is becoming more and more prevalent here and elsewhere. Is this being done to avoid confusing bullpens with prisons? Suffice to say, Ron Washington isn’t going to send Rich Harden to prison for pitching like a bum (though you could certainly make the argument that Harden is stealing money and has been for some time). Harden’s worthy of a demotion surely, deportation possibly, but not incarceration.

  13. I wonder why some Rangers fans are so protective of Lee. I mean the guy holds no alleigance to anyone there, and doesent owe the fans or the organization anything. There’s never a guarantee wether a player with impending Free Agency would decide to come back, especially since he’s so eager to try it. All I can say is don’t get tooattached to the guy because he could walk jus like that, and I he comes back to pitch at Ameriquest or The Ballpark in Arlington or something you guys would be booing him for really no apparent reason. Yes I am a Yank fan, but I could really care less about Lee right now because he’s not on my team now, and I really don’t have to tell you over and over about the young pitchers the Yankees have in the minors that they aren’t forcing, but being forced to bring them up quickly. So of course I’d love for Lee to come but if he wants to go somewhere else there’s obviously no problem. And no, I’m not saying this because of Lee’s stuggles, he is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, and backs don’t tend to agree with any kind off player at any age.

    • daze 5 years ago

      I think they’re protective because the team made a lot of moves and none of them have really panned out… but the Lee trade was the biggest one of all. So while it would be great for any team to have pulled off the deal to get Lee, he hasn’t been as dominating as they’d hoped. Rangers fans are worried he’ll go elsewhere to actually produce for a team.

  14. nick1538 5 years ago

    If the Rangers and Yankees offer the same money, why would he CHOOSE to pitch and live in a 100 degree climate? I am not saying that he “dislikes Texas,” which he might, but no pitcher would choose to pitch in adverse conditions if he had the choice.

    As far as the rotation (the actual topic of this post), they absolutely should give Neftali a shot at a spot in the rotation. To quote the post: “Feliz has the stuff to be a number one starter.” You have to explore that possibility and if it doesn’t work out, then there is the bullpen.

    • If they are just gonna groom Tanner Sheppers into the bullpen then I’d let Feliz start. But would he need an innings limit? He’s already pitched alot for the Rangers being their closer but I think it’s best suited to put him in the rotation.

      • nick1538 5 years ago

        I am sure he would have a inning limit (although the Nolan Ryan Front Office is pretty lax on pitch counts). They could go the route the Yankees were going to take with Phil Hughes (before their rotation started to stink it up): Start Neftali for ~120 innings or 18-20 Starts, and then move him the the BP to keep his innings down. If Tanner Sheppers is going to the BP, it works out well. Also, replacing Frank Francisco would be easier than re-signing/replacing Cliff Lee.

        • Well Phil Hughes is over that 120 IP and his limit is 175. He’s nearing that so I think he might just have one or two more starts because they also need Hughes to pitch in the playoffs. I just thank god that they handled Hughes better than they monumentally failed on Joba. Can’t wait for those limits to go away. It looks as if he is losing stamina and momentum as if he is being held back, and he is. But to see him pitch without those limits will be a releif to everyone, I think Hughes is going to be another ace in that rotation after CC. I just want him to be in from of nutcase AJ. But Neftali Feliz would, and should get an innings limit. That kind of talent needs to be handled carefully

          • nick1538 5 years ago

            If you call a guy who can put up an ERA in the 4.00-4.50 range an ace, then yes, Hughes will be “another ace in that rotation after CC.” That is what I see from his numbers at AAA and the Majors (last year doesn’t count, because it was relief work). Don’t get me wrong, in the AL East that isn’t anything to sneez at, but not “Ace numbers.”

          • You immediately lose credibility to that post. I never even said he was “putting up ace numbers” or that he “had ace numbers”. Hughes while pitching in the AL East, has posted a 16-7 record, and I also think you have forgotten Hughes had a 2.70 ERA at the ASB, which if it’s not pitching like an ace, I don’t know what is. All of that while having the burden of an innings limit. And I also said is going to be an ace behind CC not “is an ace behind CC right now”. And minor league stats mean nothing if Hughes had been pitching that great throughout the season. And actually, was projected to be a #1 pitcher which is an ace. Out of respect to you but that was a bad post…

          • nick1538 5 years ago

            Phil Hughes has pitched 348 innings at the ML level. His ERA is 4.24 through those innings (including 86 in relief), and his FIP (4.02) and xFIP (4.30) support that ERA. How does 4.24 become an Ace-like number under 3.50?
            Every pitcher can have a good stretch, either a half season (Hughes pre-ASB), or even full season (Javier Vasquez in 2009). I stand by my post: Hughes is a middle of the rotation starter and will have a career ERA in the 4.00-4.50 range. Also wins aren’t a true predictor of a pitchers ability, just ask Josh Johnson or Zack Greinke.

          • You sure are judging a very young pitcher by his stats… You don’t do that with pitchers who haven’t reached their ceilings… Just ask JJ or Grienke.

          • nick1538 5 years ago

            JJ has never ended a season (full or partial) below 3.65. Greinke was a headcase because the Royals promoted him too quickly.

            Hughes first season with the Yankees: 4.46 in 72.2. What ceiling are you talking about?

    • Guest 5 years ago

      He may very well hate the heat in TX, and love everything about NYC. But it’s also just as likely he happens to like TX more than NY, and could care less about the heat. Why would he want to go to NY and deal w/ the media circus there on a daily basis as opposed to the laid back atmosphere in TX? Unless someone feeding us this information is one of Cliff Lee’s close friends, then we really don’t know. Idk if I’d call it us being protective of him so much, at least on my part. I just think it’s funny how everyone thinks it’s a foregone conclusion that he’s gone.

      All I’m saying is TX will have the money to go after him this offseason if they want to, and the new ownership is indicating that they’re willing to spend a lot of money to do what it takes to maintain a contending team. They have a great group of guys in the clubhouse, a 1st place team, a really good farm system and a front office that’s starting to develop a proven track record. Based on some of the stuff I’ve been reading lately, you’d think we were talking about him resigning w/ the Pirates or something (w/ all do respect to the Pirates)

  15. texintillidie 5 years ago

    I really don’t want the Rangers to sign Cliff Lee. I don’t think he’s worth the money. Don’t get me wrong he is an amazing pitcher but so is A-rod an amazing hitter and that 1 expensive piece didnt complete the clubs world series puzzle but instead became part of the rangers financial troubles. The way the club is heading with all thier talent I don’t think they need to tap the bank role for just 1 guy. Infact I think alot of their mid-season acquistions kinda rewind the teams chemistry. Plus if the Yanks get him and win the world series so what its like Barry Bonds breakin the Hr. record it goes down in my mind as a tanted team that I will never have true respect for.

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