The Rangers have 32 pitchers in major league camp. Last week I did an analysis of the first 16 pitchers who are in big league camp and gave their chances of making the team at the end of Spring Training. I will do the same for the last 16 this week and have included each player’s stats from last year. I will also predict the pitching roster.
Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA, 169 K with Rangers in 2011)
Even though Colby had an ERA above 4.00 last year, Ron Washington has already named him the Opening Day starter. For the second straight year, Colby has 200+ innings and a solid to mediocre regular season ERA (3.72 in 2010, 4.40 in 2011), but then followed that up with outstanding postseasons (1.71 playoff ERA in 2010, 3.04 in 2011). He has piled up 4 career playoff wins to just one loss and a 2.34 career playoff ERA. There is no chance that he is left off the big league roster, barring an injury.
Percentage chance of making the Opening Day roster: 100%
Mark Lowe (45 IP, 3.80 ERA, 42 K with Rangers in 2011)
Mark put up solid numbers last year with the Rangers, with a 3.80 ERA, yet, as is the norm with him, was very inconsistent, with a 13.50 April ERA, an ERA of 0.87 in May, followed by ERAs from June to September of 4.50, 3.38, 3.27, and 4.91. So while Lowe may be a good pitcher, he is not a very dependable guy. And on top of that, he has been a horrendous postseason pitcher, as in just 1.2 playoff innings over the last two years, he has allowed 7 runs, all earned, which totals up to a 37.80 ERA. He will almost certainly make the team, but he isn’t a certainty to be on the roster all year long.
Roman Mendez (9-1, 3.31 ERA, 130 K, 117 IP with High-A Hickory in 2011)
Even though Roman has never been past High-A and therefore has no chance of making the Opening Day roster, he has quickly turned into a very good prospect for the Rangers since coming over in the trade that sent Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Red Sox. After a 5.73 season ERA in 2010, Mendez really turned it around, posting a 3.31 ERA in 2011, including a 2.85 ERA in the second half of the season. He has no chance at the roster to start off this season, but he could work his way up fast enough to have a chance to make the bigs and some point in 2013.
Justin Miller (69.2 IP, 1.81 ERA, 77 K with Double-A Frisco in 2011)
One of five Justin Miller’s throughout the minor leagues, Justin dominated the Texas League, with a 1.81 ERA and a .185 opponent’s batting average. He really doesn’t have much of a chance at the big league team on Opening Day, but based on how well he pitched in Double-A last year, should start off the season at Triple-A, and could very well make it to the majors at some point this season.
Joe Nathan (44.2 IP, 4.84 ERA, 43 K with Twins in 2011)
Despite a 4.84 ERA last year, and 0 innings pitched in 2010 due to Tommy John surgery, Nathan will enter this season as the Rangers Opening Day closer. He has overall had an outstanding career, with 261 career saves and a 2.87 career ERA, including ERAs of 2.70, 1.58, 1.88, 1.33, and 2.10 from ’05-’09. And after a poor start last year, Joe really picked it up after the All-Star break, with a 3.91 second half ERA, which was enough to convince the Rangers that he is ready to be a top-tier closer again.
Alexi Ogando (169 IP, 3.51 ERA, 126 K with Rangers in 2011)
Even though Alexi was an All-Star as a starter last season, the Rangers are going to move him back to the bullpen for two main reasons: 1) Alexi wore down by the end of the year and 2) The Rangers want Neftali Feliz to be a starter this year. Ogando has plenty of experience with being a relief pitcher, as he threw 41.2 innings out of the bullpen in 2010, and was a reliever throughout both of the Rangers two playoff runs. He had a 1.30 ERA in 2010 as a reliever. He will no doubt make the Opening Day roster.
Martin Perez (8-6, 4.33 ERA, 120 K, 137 IP with Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Frisco in 2011)
Despite his 4.33 ERA last season, including a 6.43 Triple-A ERA, Martin is still considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and is still just 21 years old. He almost certainly won’t make the Opening Day roster, as not only is he not ready, but the Rangers want to break him into the big leagues as a starter, either in 2013 or 2014. However, chances are good that he will be called up in September to pitch out of the bullpen if Perez can have a more successful season with the Express than he did last year.
Neil Ramirez (5-3, 3.12 ERA, 119 K, 98 IP with High-A Myrtle Beach, Double-A Frisco, and Triple-A Round Rock in 2011)
Like Perez, Neil Ramirez is one of the top prospects in the Rangers system, ranking #6 according to Baseball America. And even though he threw 74.1 innings in Triple-A last year, the odds are heavily stacked against him making the Opening Day roster. He will most likely start off the season with Round Rock, but may be called up fairly early on in the season to make his major league debut in a spot start for an injured starter if needed.
Greg Reynolds (19.1 IP, 6.05 ERA, 10 K with Rockies in 2011)
Greg was acquired in the offseason from Colorado for 1B Chad Tracy, the son of Rockies manager Jim Tracy, and while he almost certainly won’t make the Opening Day roster, Reynolds will provide good depth in case of injury as he has pitched in the majors in four of the last five seasons. He will have to have an unbelievable Spring Training in order to avoid starting of the season in Triple-A.
Robbie Ross (10-5, 2.34 ERA, 134 K, 161.1 IP with High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco in 2011)
His presence in big league camp is mostly just to help with his development, as he has never pitched above Double-A in his career. Last year, Robbie pitched lights-out, with a 2.34 ERA between High-A and Double-A, and had an incredibly low 33 walks in 161.1 innings to go along with a fantastic 1.46 ground out to fly out ratio, along with yet another great statistic in opponents batting average, where he held opposing batters to a .228 average. On top of that, he held lefties to a .143 average while with Frisco. That stat is what gives him a chance of making the Opening Day roster if all goes wrong with the lefty specialist competition this spring. The Rangers would really like for him to start the season off in Double-A.
Tanner Scheppers (43.2 IP, 3.71 ERA, 44 K with Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock in 2011)
For the second straight season, Tanner split the season between Double-A and Triple-A, this time with a little more success at the higher level. After a 5.48 Triple-A ERA in 2010, Scheppers improved that to a 4.35 ERA at that level in 2011. Tanner probably hasn’t had enough minor league success yet to have a great chance at the Opening Day roster, but with a great spring, he has a chance to take the last bullpen spot to start off the season.
Ben Snyder (11-5, 3.87 ERA, 67 K, 118.2 IP with Double-A Frisco in 2011)
A Rule-5 draft pick a couple of years ago, Ben was turned into a starter halfway through last season, and really doesn’t have much of a chance at making the Opening Day team. Ben will most likely start off at Frisco for the third straight season, and is nowhere close to being major league ready, as he had a 4.15 ERA as a starter last year.
Mitch Stetter (7 IP, 5.14 ERA, 7 K with Brewers in 2011)
Stetter is one of many pitchers battling it out for the lefty specialist job on the Rangers Opening Day roster, but as a non-roster invite with just 10.2 major league innings combined the past two seasons, he will need a great spring to win the job. He has, however, had success at the big league level, with ERAs of 3.20 and 3.60 in 2008 and 2009. Chances are Mitch will start the season at Round Rock and provide good depth, but he has a shot at the Opening Day team.
Yoshinori Tateyama (44 IP, 4.50 ERA, 43 K with Rangers in 2011)
I hope I’m wrong, but unfortunately I think that Yoshi has a decent shot at making the team out of Spring Training. He is going to fight for the final bullpen spot along with Mark Hamburger, Cody Eppley, and Tanner Scheppers among others. Tateyama started off pitching very well when he was first called up to Texas, with a 1.80 May ERA, 4.50 June ERA, and 2.16 July ERA, but then imploded late in the season, allowing 13 runs, all earned, in his final 6 innings pitched, including grand slams on back-to-back pitches, something that had never been done before. I really don’t want to see him on the Opening Day roster, but with a good spring he could make it.
Koji Uehara (65 IP, 2.35 ERA, 85 K with Orioles and Rangers in 2011)
Don’t let those numbers shown above fool you. Uehara was awful last year for the Rangers, posting a 4.00 ERA after being acquired in late July, and on top of his disappointing regular season stint, Uehara had a 33.75 postseason ERA, and no, that is not a typo. By his last couple of outings, Koji didn’t even seem interested in pitching, he had lost so much confidence. The Rangers owe him $4 million this year, but are looking to trade him, and I believe they will get a deal done. Even if he isn’t traded, with a bad spring, Koji still might not make the team.
Matt West (27 IP, 3.00 ERA, 35 K with Short-Season-A Spokane and High-A Myrtle Beach in 2011)
Matt never had a chance at making the team out of Spring Training, as he still hasn’t had a full pro season yet, and now he really doesn’t have a chance, as he is now injured. The extent of the injury is not yet known. Matt got his career off to a good start last season, as he had a 3.00 ERA in his first pro baseball, and, depending on the injury, should have a bright future ahead of him.
Projected Pitching Roster:
SP – Colby Lewis
SP – Derek Holland
SP – Yu Darvish
SP – Matt Harrison
SP – Neftali Feliz
Lefty Specialist – Michael Kirkman
Long Reliever/Innings Eater – Mark Hamburger
Long Reliever – Scott Feldman
Middle Reliever – Mark Lowe
Set-up Man – Alexi Ogando
Set-up Man – Mike Adams
Closer – Joe Nathan
LHP Joe Beimel (45.6%)
RHP Cody Eppley (41.6%)
LHP Mitch Stetter (36.7%)
RHP Yoshinori Tateyama (41.3%)
RHP Koji Uehara (49.6%)
Come back next week for my catchers and infielders Spring Training Analysis.