Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Rangers pin hopes on new rotation, young bats

@Sullivan_Ranger
March 25, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rebuild? The word was hardly mentioned in Rangers camp this spring. The Rangers aren’t going into this season thinking about any rebuilding model or the future beyond 2019. They open their season on Thursday against the Cubs with the idea that if they put together enough pitching

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rebuild? The word was hardly mentioned in Rangers camp this spring.

The Rangers aren’t going into this season thinking about any rebuilding model or the future beyond 2019. They open their season on Thursday against the Cubs with the idea that if they put together enough pitching to support their offense and play winning baseball under manager Chris Woodward, they could make it interesting in the American League West.

What’s the goal?

The Rangers have two goals. They need their experienced young offensive players -- Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Delino DeShields, Ronald Guzman -- to fulfill the high expectations that have surrounded them the past few years. The Rangers haven’t scored 800 runs in a season since 2012 but have that kind of potential with this offense. The other goal is for their promising Minor League pitchers -- Jonathan Hernandez, Joe Palumbo, Taylor Hearn, Brock Burke and others -- to make a real push toward being big league starters.

What’s the plan?

The Rangers will have a revamped rotation and bullpen. Mike Minor heads the rotation, but there are four new starters behind him. Lance Lynn is the No. 2 guy, followed by Drew Smyly, Shelby Miller and Edinson Volquez. The last three are experienced veterans who are also coming back from Tommy John surgery. Jose Leclerc is back as closer, and veteran right-handers Shawn Kelley, Chris Martin, Jesse Chavez and Jeanmar Gomez have to form the core of the rebuilt bullpen. The Rangers' plan is for their rebuilt staff to be healthy and effective, and give the offense a chance to pound the opposition.

What could go wrong?

It all comes down to the starting pitching. If Smyly, Miller and Volquez can’t come back, this could be a long year for the Rangers and could force them to bring up some young pitchers before they are ready. In addition, if the Rangers don’t have a big year offensively, well, it will make it even more challenging for the pitching staff.

Who might surprise?

DeShields has had an up-and-down career, and his 2018 was racked by injuries. But he is healthy now and has reclaimed his spot in center field. With Woodward ready and willing to let DeShields loose on the bases, DeShields could be primed for the long-awaited breakthrough season.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.