If Yu Darvish signs, who's out of rotation?

January, 16, 2012
1/16/12
8:00
AM CT
It's a question that many of you have asked via twitter or email in the last few weeks. The Rangers have a little more than two days to get Yu Darvish signed (check out our countdown clock on the ESPN Dallas home page) and assuming they do, that would mean a gaggle of starters heading to Surprise, Ariz., for spring training.

Right now, the rotation includes:

Colby Lewis
Derek Holland
Matt Harrison
Alexi Ogando
Neftali Feliz

But Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner a few years ago, in case you've forgotten, will also be there. And you never know who else may show up in Surprise with plenty of big league experience (the Rangers have checked in on Roy Oswalt, for instance).

No, there won't be any six-man rotation. It's a bad idea, if you ask me, and manager Ron Washington has shot it down.

The Rangers have some options even before spring training gets here. If Darvish gets signed as expected by Wednesday's deadline, they could look at trading one of their starters if they felt they could get something in return that would help the club. But the likelihood is that they'll take everyone to Surprise and see what happens.

Why? Because along with the competition of camp, it gives them some critical insurance. We've seen in the past that they've needed it. Tommy Hunter strained his groin the last week of spring training in 2011, forcing Ogando into the rotation. Brandon McCarthy and Holland had issues a few springs ago. The point is injuries happen and it's never a bad thing to have options.

But let's say they all stay healthy. The club appears committed to giving Feliz a shot at the rotation. Barring something crazy this spring, I can't see him moving back to the bullpen. Lewis and Holland are locks. And in my opinion, Harrison should be too. I just think he pitched well enough and showed enough to start. That's why things tend to center around Ogando.

He was asked about the possibility after signing autographs at Texas Rangers FanFest on Sunday.

"That is something that is out of my control," Ogando said through a translator "I don't think too much about it. I know I'll be ready to be a starter and if they make a different decision, I'll be ready. Of course, I want to be a starter and that's what I'm working on."

But he was a different pitcher after the All-Star break than before. He was 9-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 17 starts (104 2/3 innings) with 78 strikeouts and 23 walks. Opponents hit just .213 against him. But after the break, he was 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 games, 12 of them starts (64 1/3 innings).

He was a force in the bullpen in the ALDS and ALCS, again helping make him the logical choice to go back to the bullpen if needed in 2012. He gave up no runs and one hit in the ALDS and had a solid ALCS, allowing one run in 7 2/3 innings. But he appeared to run out of gas in the World Series (and pesky David Freese got to him too). He had a 10.13 ERA in six appearances with seven walks and three strikeouts.

So it appears Ogando is the logical choice to head back to the pen, but is that fair? We saw what he could do in the first half of the 2011 season and how good he was as a starter. With a little more strength and stamina, Ogando could have the potential to stay consistent longer during the season. And what about Harrison? Some of you have commented that you believe he could be the one moved and one thinking there is that he's left-handed. Certainly that's possible. I just think he deserves his rotation slot and the club would be better off with a true situational lefty. But that's just me.

Still, the Rangers have a problem they usually haven't had in their history: Too many starting pitchers and not enough spots. You can bet that manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels want to keep it that way.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.12 123 158
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .322
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 71
RA. Beltre 73
OPSA. Beltre .873
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182