Spring Training is well under way, and the Texas Rangers are looking to repeat as American League West Champions. Last year, the Rangers were the best team in the regular season only to bow out of the playoffs after a sweep by the Toronto Blue Jays. This year is going to be a little tougher with questions in the pitching rotation, but their strong lineup should help them return to the playoffs.
Texas Rangers 2017 Season Preview
The Rangers will once again boast one of the best front-end rotations in baseball. Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish were a solid combination last year after Darvish returned. Martin Perez is the most likely candidate to fill the number three spot in the rotation. Perez had a rough season last year, finishing 10-11 with an ERA above 4.00. He also had a hard time winning away from Arlington, finishing 2-8 in away games. After Perez, it will be a race to see who grabs the fourth and fifth positions in the rotation.
General Manager Jon Daniels, on the advice of pitching coach Doug Brocail, signed veteran pitcher Andrew Cashner. Brocail claimed he could work with Cashner, and make him a key to the rotation. If Brocail can pull it off, all will be right for the Rangers. Yet, signing Cashner is a long shot. In his seven years in the majors, he has only had one winning season, and his career ERA has been close to five. It is hard to justify him having a spot in the rotation, but Daniels must see something. The last spot will more than likely go to Tyson Ross. Ross has had a rough career up to this point. Yet, he has a good chance to have his first winning season this year with the Rangers. Ross, over his career, has had a decent stats, but his win/loss record has been poor.
A couple of other pitchers to pay attention to are Nick Martinez and Dillon Gee. Both will make their way into the rotation in the event of a long-term injury, or if a spot in the rotation needs to be skipped. The Rangers might also wind up calling on their long time rotation staple, Colby Lewis. While negotiations broke down during the offseason, it would not be crazy to believe Daniels would call Lewis back if needed.
The bullpen should remain intact. Last year, the Rangers bullpen got off to a rocky start, but settled in after Sam Dyson took over the closer role. Things shouldn’t be much different this year. The Ranger will have one of the better bullpen units in baseball, with Jeremy Jeffress, Matt Bush, and Dyson.
The lineup will look a little different this year. During the offseason, the Rangers lost both Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. The departure of Moreland led Daniels to sign Mike Napoli, who has always been a huge favorite amongst fans in Arlington. This is Napoli’s third stint with the Rangers. He was a big key to the Rangers in the 2011 American League Pennant run. Another familiar face that Ranger fans might see is Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is currently signed under a minor league contract, and just underwent another knee surgery. Yet, if he does make the lineup, his power will be a nice addition.
With the addition of Napoli, and returning players like Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, and Jonathan Lucroy, the Rangers lineup will dominate. A couple of players could have break out years. One is Nomar Mazara. He had a great rookie campaign, but started to cool off half way through the season. The Rangers need Mazara to put together a solid, complete season. Another player who should break out is Carlos Gomez. He thrived in the Rangers potent lineup last season.
The Rangers should see the postseason again, either by winning the division or grabbing a wildcard spot. They will need the rotation to really step up if they want to repeat in the AL West. The Rangers will be a fun team to watch this season. If they live up to their potential, they should be exciting to watch.
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