Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the ninth inning during Game Five of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 4-2.
With much up in the air involving the Rangers starting pitching staff, there is a lot of speculating to do. Even though it's only December we'll take a look how the rotation might look come April.
Assuming there's no moves made in the starting staff, which is a possibility, it'll look something like this:
1. Colby Lewis — Lewis has earned an opening day start thanks to his stellar performances in the past two postseasons and has cemented himself as the Rangers' most reliable starter in clutch situations. Is he an ace? No, he's far from it, actually. But as the rotation stands right now, Lewis the most reliable, trusted piece.
2. Derek Holland — Holland's second half of 2011 was enough to give the Rangers serious hope, though possibly premature, that Holland can emerge into an ace for the Rangers. He has the stuff to be an ace, and has for a few years. He finally started to show it down the stretch last season and if he's, in fact, matured into a solid pitcher that can go out and throw 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a World Series game he could be the ace of this team. For now, he's a solid No. 2.
3. Matt Harrison — This is where things get jumbled, which is kind of scary when you're saying that at the No. 3 spot in the rotation. Harrison is that bulldog pitcher every rotation needs. He doesn't have the best stuff, but last year it got a whole lot better than ever before as he added about 3-4 mph on his fastball and developed better off-speed stuff.
4. Neftali Feliz — I know the Rangers have designs of Feliz being a top-of-the-rotation guy and that might be the case down the road, but I don't see it happening yet. Feliz obviously has an electric fastball, often touching triple digits. But he won't be able to do that as a starter and will have to dial back that fastball to give him some durability to start games. That could spell trouble for Feliz, who's still trying to develop his off-speed stuff. The Rangers hope Feliz can be a dominant starter in 2012 but I'm just not seeing it.
5. Scott Feldman — Feldman made his case last year to get a shot at the starting rotation again in 2012. Back in 2009, Feldman won 17 games for the Rangers and was the Opening Day starter in 2010 before falling on some tough times and getting injured. In 2011 after joining the big league team in the summer, Feldman was a more than capable long-relief guy and made some great spot starts down the stretch before pitching very well in the postseason.
Of course, this scenario leaves out Alexi Ogando, who very well might end up back in the bullpen as the set-up man and also leaves out the possibility of a trade to land a top-end starter such as John Danks, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Garza or someone who might not be as high-end like Wade Davis.