The Rangers have had 30 pitchers in major league camp, although some of them have already been sent to minor league camp. I did an analysis of all of the pitchers who were in big league camp at any point this spring, gave their chances of making the team at the end of Spring Training, and predicted the pitching roster. I’ve also included each player’s spring training stats as of March 18th.
Omar Beltre (0 IP)
Due to surgery on his spinal cord to fix his spinal stenosis, Omar will start the season on the 60-day DL and will miss at least 2 months of the season due to the surgery. Obviously, this means that there is a 0% chance of Beltre being on the Opening Day roster. Last year, Omar made two spot starts for the Rangers, but neither went very well. In his first game, he allowed 3 runs, all earned in 4 innings against the Angels, and while he struck out 6, he also walked four. In his second start, against the Indians, Omar allowed 4 runs in 3 innings. However, Omar pitched very well in AAA in 2010, with a 2.65 ERA in 85 innings of work. Despite a very low ERA, Omar had a record of just 3-9 with the Redhawks. Had he been healthy, Omar would have had a chance at a spot in the back end of the rotation, but since he isn’t healthy, he will not have that chance.
Yhency Brazoban (4 IP, 1 ER, 2.25 ERA, 5 BB)
Probably due to the difficulty of spelling his name, Yhency has been sent down to minor league camp, and is now somebody else’s spelling problem. This, of course, leaves him with a 0% chance at making the major league team out of Spring Training. I would be very surprised if he was on the big league team at any point this season. Brazoban does have major league experience, though, with 115 major league innings spread out over five years, all with the Dodgers. He has a career ERA of 4.70, but really struggled in his only year in which he had a full season in the majors. In 2005, Yhency had a 5.33 ERA and converted 21 out of 27 save opportunities in 72.2 innings. While Yhency has seen a decent amount of time in the big leagues, he has no opportunity to be on the Rangers Opening Day roster, and has already been sent down to minor league camp.
Dave Bush (8 IP, 4 ER, 4.50 ERA, 5 K, 4 BB)
Dave Bush is still fighting for either a back-of-the-rotation starting job or a job coming out of the bullpen as a long reliever, and while he wouldn’t be a bad option at either, he wouldn’t necessarily be a good one. He has thrown 95+ innings in every year since 2004, and has a career ERA of 4.66. His only 200-inning season was in 2006 with the Brewers, when he threw 210 innings. The last three years have been up and down for Bush. In 2008, Dave posted a 4.18 ERA in 185 innings, and was a pretty solid pitcher for Milwaukee. But then in 2009, Bush had a terrible year, and had an ERA of 6.38 in 114.1 innings. But Dave got back on track in 2010, as he lowered his ERA back into the 4.00s, as he had a 4.54 ERA in 174.1 innings. He has one postseason start in his career, and it went well, as he allowed just one run in 5.1 innings. Dave will most likely not make the Opening Day roster, but he would be a fantastic option as a spot starter.
Fabio Castillo (0 IP)
Not only has Fabio been sent down to minor league camp, but he is also injured with a broken bone in his foot. This puts him at a 0% chance of making the Opening Day roster in two ways, and even if he was healthy and in big league camp, he still wouldn’t have made the team. Fabio spent the bulk of last year in High-A Bakersfield last year, where he dominated, posting a 1.94 ERA in 51 IP. He also spent a very short time in Frisco, giving up 2 runs in 3.1 innings. There is no way that Castillo has any chance at being on the major league roster coming out of Spring Training.
Miguel De Los Santos (1 IP, 2 ER, 18.00 ERA, 2 K)
Miguel never had a chance to make the team, as he has never played above Low-A ball, but since he has been sent down to minor league camp, he really doesn’t have a chance. However he did pitch very well in the minors last year, with a 1.69 ERA in 32 short-season A innings with Spokane and a 3.99 ERA is 38.2 low-A innings with Hickory. However the fact that Miguel was added to the Rangers 40-man roster during the offseason is a clear indication as to how the organization feels about his potential.
Cody Eppley (5.1 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 5.06 ERA, 3 K)
In his third pro season, Cody pitched very, very well in both High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco, but then struggled a little bit once he got promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He had a 0.00 ERA in 18 High-A innings, a 1.19 ERA in 22.2 Double-A innings, but then a 4.08 ERA in 28.2 Triple-A innings, which is where he will most likely start the 2011 season, as the major league level was ruled out when he was sent down to minor league camp. Cody doesn’t have a chance at making the Rangers Opening Day roster, but if there’s room on the 40-man roster for him, he may end up being one of the Rangers’ September call-ups if he has another good year.
Scott Feldman (0 IP)
Scott went into the 2010 season as the Rangers #1 starter, and enters the 2011 recovering from knee surgery, which will prevent him from being ready for the start of the regular season. In 2009, Scott went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 189.2 innings, including a 3.79 ERA in 31 games started. But in 2010, Scott really struggled, with a 7-11 record to go along with a very disappointing 5.48 ERA in 141.1 innings. Players hit .313 off of Feldman last year, and that is a very bad number. Even if he was healthy, Scott would’ve had to fight to win a spot on the team.
Neftali Feliz (9 IP, 1 ER, 1.00 ERA, 9 K)
After the All-Star season that Neftali Feliz had last year, in which he set the rookie record for saves in a season with 40, there is no question whether he will be on the Opening Day roster or not. But there is a question as to which role that will be in, as the Rangers have been stretching him out this spring to see if he should be a starter for the 2011 squad. In two big league seasons, Feliz has a career ERA of 2.42, which is incredible. In 2009, he justified his being called up with an outstanding 1.74 ERA in 31 innings. Then in 2010, he justified his spot as the team’s closer with a 2.73 ERA in 69.1 innings, and 40 saves. And despite some location problems in the playoffs, Neftali had a postseason ERA of 1.23. Feliz will be on the Rangers major league team to start off the season. The only question is whether it will be as a starter or as a closer.
Matt Harrison (9 IP, 1 ER, 1.00 ERA, 5 K)
To this point a disappointment, Matt will most likely have a chance to change that this year. In his bid for a job in the starting rotation, Harrison has had a very good spring, allowing just one run in nine innings of work. Last year, Matt spent most of his time coming out of the bullpen, as he made 31 appearances out of the ‘pen, while making only 6 starts. Matt also pitched better coming out of the bullpen, with a 4.26 ERA as a reliever, and a 5.29 ERA as a starter, which totaled up to a 4.71 ERA on the year. But despite a very mediocre season last year, Matt’s spring has been good enough to where it looks as if he will be in the Rangers Opening Day starting rotation.
Derek Holland (9 IP, 5 ER, 5.00 ERA, 12 H, 9 K)
Derek is fighting for a spot in the starting rotation, and the Rangers are hoping that this is the year that he can put it all together. He improved last year from his 2009 form, as his ERA went from 6.12 in 2009 to 4.08 in 2010, and his batting average against dropped from .288 in 2009 to .247 in 2010. His WHIP also dropped by 0.12. But due to injuries, Derek only got to pitch in 57.1 major league innings last year in the regular season. Derek’s statistics in his first two big league seasons aren’t that great, but even though the stats don’t blow you away so far, he has the potential to be an ace, and so I think that he will make the team coming out of Spring Training.
Tommy Hunter (8.2 IP, 11 R, 8 ER, 8.31 ERA, 15 H, 10 K)
Tommy’s numbers have gotten better in every big league season. In 2008, he pitched 11 innings, and had an ERA of 16.36 while hitters had a batting average of .404 off of him, which made his WHIP extremely high at 2.36. Then, in 2009, Tommy lowered his ERA to 4.10 in 112 innings, while his WHIP improved to 1.30 as his batting average against lowered to .259. In 2010, Tommy’s ERA lowered again to 3.73 in 128 innings, as his WHIP (1.24) and batting average against (.255) also lowered again. But while his numbers have gotten better, the pattern in each of the past two seasons has stayed the same. He has started off the year well, with a 2.35 ERA pre-All-Star break in 2009, and a 2.34 ERA pre-All-Star break in 2010. But then, after that, Tommy has started to tail off at the end of the year with post-All-Star break ERAs of 4.55 in 2009 and 4.41 in 2010. He also really struggled in the playoffs last year, with a 5.56 ERA in 11.1 postseason innings. So while Tommy has been getting better every year, he still might not make the Opening Day roster, although I think he probably will.
Eric Hurley (9 IP, 1 ER, 1.00 ERA, 5 K)
Despite a very good spring, Eric has been sent down to minor league camp, and has a 0% chance of making the team, after missing two full seasons due to injuries. But even though Eric will not be on the Opening Day roster, my guess is that he will be on the major league team at some point in the 2011 season. That could change, though, if he continues to struggle at any level above Double-A. In two stints in Triple-A Oklahoma City, Eric posted ERAs of 4.91 and 5.30 in 73.1 and 74.2 innings pitched, and those certainly are not very good numbers. Eric made it to the majors in 2008, and in 24.2 innings, Eric had an ERA of 5.47 while allowing 5 home runs, which is way too many for 24.2 innings. But while Eric will not be on the Opening Day roster, don’t expect him to stay in the minors all year long.
Zach Jackson (4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6.23 ERA)
Even though Zach Jackson is a former Aggie, which obviously improves his chances tremendously, he probably does not have much of a chance at making the Rangers major league team out of Spring Training. He has spent parts of three seasons in the majors, but they haven’t gone so well, as he has a career ERA of 5.81 in 105.1 major league innings. And if he doesn’t improve his performance at the minor league level, Jackson probably won’t have another shot at the majors. The last three seasons at Triple-A, Zach has had ERAs of 7.85, 6.09, and 6.38. That won’t get it done, and I don’t see Jackson being on the Rangers’ active roster anytime soon.
Michael Kirkman (11.1 IP, 13 R, 7 ER, 5.56 ERA, 9 K)
After a fantastic season at Triple-A last year, where Michael had a 3.09 ERA in 131 innings, Kirkman got called up to the big leagues, where he also pitched very well. Kirkman had a 1.65 ERA in 14 regular season major league games, while holding opposing hitters to a .161 average. So while he may not be having the best of springs, his performance at every level last season, in my opinion, should at least get him on the Rangers Opening Day roster, even if they do have a very short leash on him.
Colby Lewis (9 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 4.00 ERA, 6 K)
In his first year back from Japan, Colby pitched well enough to lock himself into a rotation spot in 2011, most likely the #2 spot. Colby had an ERA of 3.72 in the regular season, and started off the year strong, with a 3.33 ERA pre-All-Star break. He broke the 200-inning mark, with 201 innings, and finished the season four strikeouts away from 200 K’s. But while Colby pitched well in the regular season, his biggest mark was in the postseason. He went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched and held opponents to a .176 average. His three wins include the Rangers’ only World Series victory, and the win that sent the Rangers to the World Series.
Mark Lowe (6 IP, 8 R, 7 ER, 10.50 ERA, 11 H, 3 K)
Despite a horrendous spring and a terrible short stint with the Rangers last season, Mark seems like he has a bullpen spot to lose. Mark has played two full major league seasons, and has had one good one and one bad one. In 2008, Mark pitched 63.2 innings, and had an ERA of 5.37, while hitters crushed him, with a .301 average. But then in 2009, Mark had an ERA of 3.27 in 80 innings, while hitters hit only .232. He started off 2010 well with the Mariners, as he had an ERA of 3.48 before he got injured and then traded to the Rangers. He then allowed four runs in three innings in the regular season with the Rangers, and then had an ERA of 67.50 in the playoffs, as he allowed 5 runs in 0.2 innings. But while he hasn’t performed at all with the Rangers, his 2009 season seems to have given him an edge for a spot in the bullpen.
Seth McClung (6 IP, 9 ER, 13.50 ERA, 7 BB, 10 H, 2 K)
Despite six years of big league experience, Seth McClung has no shot at being on the Rangers Opening Day roster, as he has been sent down to minor league camp. And, really, Seth doesn’t have much of a chance at being on the Rangers’ big league squad at any point during the season, as he is not on the 40-man roster, and isn’t exactly first in line to be put onto the 40-man roster. Seth has had three big league seasons in which he has thrown more than 100 innings, two with the Devil Rays and one with the Brewers. In 2005, he threw 109.1 innings for Tampa Bay, and had a 6.59 ERA, which did not improve much the next year, where Seth had a 6.29 ERA in 103 innings for the Devil Rays. In 2008, McClung pitched 105.1 innings, and had a 4.02 ERA, as he made 12 starts and made 25 appearances out of the bullpen for Milwaukee. Even though he is a major league veteran, I would be very surprised if he wore anything but a Round Rock Express uniform in the Rangers organization.
Darren O’Day (6 IP, 4 ER, 6.00 ERA, 12 H, 4 K)
With the seasons that Darren O’Day has had in each of the past two years, there is no way that the Rangers can leave O’Day off the team. In 2009, Darren had an ERA of 1.84 in 58.2 innings, with 55.2 of those innings coming with the Rangers. Then in 2010, Darren had an ERA of 2.03 in 62 innings. In both years, Darren had a batting average against of below .200 (.199 in 2009 and .196 in 2010). Unless he gets injured, he should once again have a very, very good year coming out of the Rangers bullpen.
Alexi Ogando (8.2 IP, 5 ER, 5.19 ERA, 12 H, 8 K)
Alexi will be on the Rangers Opening Day roster, whether it’s as a starter, a reliever, or even as a closer. The Rangers have been pitching him as a starter this spring, but my guess is that he starts the season as the set-up man. Last year, Alexi was incredible, as his ERA was 1.30 in 41.2 innings pitched for the Rangers, and he also pitched well in the postseason. In his six postseason innings, Alexi allowed only one run (a 1.50 ERA), and struck out eight. So while Alexi is not locked into any one role going into the regular season, he does have a spot on the roster, wherever that might be.
Darren Oliver (2 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 4.50 ERA)
Oliver is the third of the Rangers ‘O No’s’ in the bullpen (O’Day, Ogando, and Oliver - the other teams’ hitters say ‘O No’ when they come in to pitch). He has had ERAs below 3.00 in each of the past three seasons, and had the lowest ERA of his career last year, when he had a 2.48 ERA. He pitches very well against lefties, as he held lefties to a .200 batting average off of him last year, while righties hit .281. Despite the possibility that Darren will need a cane to get to the mound from the bullpen by the end of the season, there is a 100% chance that he will be on the Rangers Opening Day roster.
Zach Phillips (2.2 IP, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA, 3 BB, 4 H, 2 K)
Ever since Zach has been moved to the bullpen, he has been very successful in the minor leagues. However, Zach has been sent down to minor league camp, and will have to continue his minor league success if he wants to be on the big league team at any point in 2011. Up to 2008, Zach was a starter, and had a 5.54 ERA at High-A Bakersfield in 28 starts. Since then, though, he has been great. In 2009, he was moved to the bullpen, where he posted ERAs of 1.23 and 1.60 in High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco, respectively. Then, last year, Zach had a 1.08 ERA in 16.2 Double-A innings before being moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where his ERA was quite a bit higher at 3.22, but still very good. If Zach can keep this up in the Rangers’ farm system, he should at least be a September call-up.
Arthur Rhodes (4 IP, 3 ER, 6.75 ERA, 5 K)
It’s not often that a relief pitcher that is not a closer makes it into an All-Star game, but Arthur Rhodes pitched so well last season that he forced his way onto the National League All-Star roster at the age of 40. Rhodes had a 2.29 ERA last season with the Cincinnati Reds, including a 1.54 ERA before the All-Star break, and has posted ERAs below 2.55 in each of the past three season, and four of the past five. After a 2.08 ERA in 2005, Rhodes struggled in 2006 as he recorded a 5.32 ERA on the season, but then found his 2005 form following Tommy John surgery which cost him the entire 2007 season to post a 2.04 ERA in 2008, a 2.53 ERA in 2009, and a 2.29 ERA in 2010. There is no way that Rhodes is not on the team coming out of Spring Training.
Tanner Scheppers (1.2 IP, 4 ER, 21.60 ERA, 5 H, 2 BB)
Tanner came into camp with a decent chance at making the Rangers big league team, but due to a back injury, he really doesn’t have much of a chance at this point. After dominating Double-A with the Frisco RoughRiders last year, where he had a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings, Tanner was called up to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he ran into some problems. His ERA with the Redhawks was 5.48 in 69 innings. While Tanner will probably not make the major league team on Opening Day, he definitely has the talent and potential to be on the team at some point during the 2011 season.
Pedro Strop (7 IP, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA, 9 K)
Despite a terrible year when he was in Arlington last year, Pedro Strop has pitched well enough this spring to garner roster consideration. So far this spring, Pedro has pitched extremely well, which was not expected after his 10.13 ERA in 10.2 major league innings last season, and after his 7.71 ERA in 7 major league innings in 2009. However, he did not at all struggle at Triple-A last year, as he had a 1.91 ERA in 42.1 innings for Oklahoma City. So while I don’t think that he will be on the big league team on Opening Day, I think he has a good shot at it, and I would be surprised if we didn’t see him in Arlington at some point during the season.
Yoshinori Tateyama (4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7.71 ERA, 11 H, 2 K)
Yoshinori has also been sent down to minor league camp, after having a horrendous spring on the big league side. In 4.2 innings, he allowed 11 hits (a .458 average), and really struggled against righties, which is supposed to be his specialty. Righties hit .583 off of Tateyama. In Japan last year, righties hit just 1.86 off Tateyama, as Yoshinori had a 1.80 ERA for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. With his age at 35, Tateyama needs to have enough success at Triple-A this year to get called up to have much of a chance at a decent big league career in America.
Mason Tobin (3.2 IP, 3 R, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA, 3 BB, 2 K)
After missing the entire 2010 season and most of the 2009 season, the Cubs claimed Tobin in the Rule 5 draft from the Angels, and then sold him to the Rangers. In 2009, Tobin got injured after 2.2 innings and needed Tommy John surgery. In his last lengthy minor league action, Mason had a 3.13 ERA in 37.1 innings for the Angels Short-Season-A squad, the Cesar Rapids Kernels. If Tobin does not make the major league team, the Rangers will need to either offer him back to the Angels or offer a trade to the Angels to keep Tobin.
Brett Tomko (7 IP, 6 ER, 7.71 ERA, 10 H, 6 K)
Brett will most likely not make the major league roster coming out of Spring Training, but if he does well in Round Rock, may have a chance to be moved up to the big league team. If he pitches like he did last year in the minor leagues, he will most definitely not be called up. He had a 7.18 ERA in 62.2 innings pitched split between three different levels. However, Brett does have 13 years of major league experience, and pitched very well in 57.1 major league innings in 2009. He had a 3.77 ERA between the Yankees and the Athletics. While Brett probably will not be on the Opening Day roster, if he pitches well in the minors, he may be called up at some point during the season or used as trade bait.
Ryan Tucker (5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5.06 ERA, 8 H, 5 K)
The Rangers claimed Tucker off of waivers from the Florida Marlins last October, and his stats over the last couple of years definitely called for waivers and for the minor league camp that the Rangers have sent him down to. In his only major league stint (2008), Ryan had an ERA of 8.27 (awful) and a WHIP of 1.92 (awful) in 37 innings. After that, he fell apart in the minor leagues, too, as he posted an ERA of 8.40 in 15 Triple-A innings in 2009 (his only innings above Rookie ball), and an ERA of 6.15 in 33.2 innings pitched in 2010 (all in Triple-A). Ryan has no chance at being on the Opening Day roster.
Brandon Webb (0 IP)
While Webb will definitely be in the Rangers major league rotation when he is healthy, there is no way that he will be healthy by Opening Day. However, when Brandon is healthy, if he can return to his pre-injury form (an injury that cost him two full seasons of baseball), then he should be an ace. In six years pre-injury, Brandon never posted an ERA above 3.59, and hit the 200-inning mark in 5 of the 6 years, his rookie year being the only one below 200 innings (180.2 IP). Brandon won the Cy Young Award in 2006, and is an extreme groundball pitcher, with a career GO/AO (ground-out/air-out) ratio of 3.15, which is unheard of, as he is getting over three groundball outs for every one fly ball out. So even though Brandon won’t make an appearance on Opening Day, he will still hopefully have a huge effect on the Rangers’ season.
CJ Wilson (14 IP, 8 R, 7 ER, 4.50 ERA, 18 H, 11 K)
CJ comes into the season pretty locked into the #1 spot in the Rangers rotation, which means that barring an injury, there is a 100% chance that he makes the team. In his first year back in a starting role after being moved to the bullpen permanently in 2006, CJ went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA in 204 innings pitched. He held opponents to a .217 batting average against, which was second in the American League, and held lefties to a .144 batting average against. He was very consistent throughout the season, as he had a 3.35 ERA before the All-Star break, and a 3.36 ERA after the All-Star break. CJ will go into Opening Day as the Rangers’ ace, and I expect him to go into October as the Rangers’ ace.
Projected Pitching Rotation:
SP #1: CJ Wilson
SP#2: Colby Lewis
SP #3: Matt Harrison
SP #4: Tommy Hunter
SP #5: Derek Holland
LRP: Michael Kirkman
MRP: Mark Lowe
MRP: Arthur Rhodes
MRP: Darren Oliver
MRP: Darren O’Day
SU: Alexi Ogando
CL: Neftali Feliz
Next in Line:
Come back next week for my spring training trip report.