Do you feel better about playoff rotation?
In fact, since Aug. 31 in Cleveland and not counting Roy Oswalt's spot start Sunday, Rangers starters have put together a 2.90 ERA in nine starts. Opponents are batting .190 against that rotation in that span and there have been seven quality starts. What bodes even better for the Rangers are the trends of most of the starters in the mix for the playoff rotation. That includes Yu Darvish, Ryan Dempster and Derek Holland, who are putting solid starts together on a regular basis recently.
Game 1: Matt Harrison. I'm sticking with Harrison despite struggles his last two starts. But he's got to find his form a bit here in September, and I bet he does. Harrison has been the club's most consistent pitcher overall this season. His postseason experience -- struggles and all -- from 2011 should help him. He's got 15 wins and a 3.37 ERA, and the club is 17-10 in his starts. And I like the splits here. He's 10-5 with an ERA of 3.17 on the road, a half-run better than at home. BTW, I'm also reminded of last year when Colby Lewis didn't pitch well down the stretch (6.64 ERA in final seven starts), yet showed enough signs to keep his No. 3 spot (and start on the road because of his splits), and he pitched well.
Game 2: Yu Darvish. His road and home splits are about the same and his last two sparkling starts have occurred on the road anyway, including Tropicana Field (you never know, that could be the site of yet another ALDS for Texas). Darvish is 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA in his last five starts. Texas is 4-1 in that span and Darvish has 42 strikeouts to 11 walks with opponents hitting just .161 against him. If Darvish keeps this up, he could find himself moving up to the Game 1 starter in my book. The big unknown is how Darvish will react to his first MLB postseason, but I think he'll be just fine.
Game 3: Ryan Dempster. He's moved up from Game 4 to Game 3 for me over the past few weeks. Dempster is 4-0 in his last four starts with a 1.73 ERA in wins over Baltimore, Minnesota, Cleveland and Kansas City. While the level of opponent isn't tremendous, Dempster hasn't messed around. He's pitched deep, attacked hitters and let his defense work for him. That could certainly come in handy in the playoffs.
Game 4: Derek Holland. Are the stirrups the difference? In Holland's last four starts he's looked more like the guy that was so good down the stretch in 2011. He is 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last four starts. That includes allowing one run on two hits in eight innings against Tampa Bay on Friday. He got a no-decision in that extra-inning loss. He has 27 strikeouts and seven walks in his last four starts and opponents are hitting just .198 in that span.
And yes, I would stick with the four-man rotation for the ALDS, for those wondering. All four of these guys are capable and doing the job at this point. But overall, Rangers fans have to feel better about that staff, right?
Your call: What is your playoff rotation and in what order?
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Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
Play Podcast Nelson Cruz joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Rangers' series in Oakland, his ups and downs at the plate and if the PED talks before the season were a distraction.