At the end of the season, the only thing the Texas Rangers knew about their starting rotation was that Yu Darvish was the unquestioned No. 1, Matt Harrison had stepped up and had a consistent and solid season as the No. 2 and Derek Holland was struggling to find his form. But Holland's contract, signed prior to spring training, puts him in the rotation for the forseeable future and he's vowed to get better.
But instead of having two major holes to fill this offseason -- the Rangers never got any late-season productive starts from the black hole that was the fifth-starter spot and Ryan Dempster is a free agent -- the club now only has one. Alexi Ogando is going back into the rotation. It's a move that makes sense.
Ogando, 29, showed in the first half of 2011 that he could start. He also learned that he had to throw his secondary stuff for strikes or hitters would sit on his fastball. That lesson was reinforced in 2012, when he struggled at times to find consistency. But when his slider was on, he was tough to hit, even if the fastball didn't clock at 98 mph all the time. He's thrown a changeup more often too, and my bet is he'll focus on doing more of that this offseason as he prepares for spring training.
The Rangers wanted to make sure Neftali Feliz knew as early as possible last offseason that he was starting so he could get his mind ready along with his body. The same goes for Ogando, who at the end of the season said he wanted to start in 2013.
Now the task is finding another pitcher to go along with Darvish, Harrison, Holland and Ogando in the rotation. Colby Lewis and Feliz aren't available until possibly midseason because they're rehabbing from surgery. That means the Rangers will look at trades and the free-agent market. One big name out there is Zack Greinke, a trade-deadline acquisition of the Los Angeles Angels.
But now the club can go into this offseason knowing it has four starters ready. The Rangers will try to build more depth and add a frontline starter if they can. That's better than trying to add two and not having any viable internal options. Ogando can handle the job and with this much time to prepare, should be ready to handle it when the season starts.