The success of the Rangers' starting rotation, or projected one anyway, in 2016 relies greatly on the health of a couple of guys specifically.
First off, there's the obvious in how Yu Darvish is after what should be about a 14-month layoff after Tommy John surgery when he returns to the mound, hopefully by mid-May. Then, there's the fact Colby Lewis has yet to throw this offseason and pitchers and catchers report on Thursday, meaning he'll obviously be behind the rest of the pitchers in camp.
Then, there's Derek Holland who has missed the majority of the past two seasons with numerous injuries and is beginning to pick up the tag of being "injury prone".
The questions are obviously there, but second-year manager Jeff Banister is still confident in the group with some depth added into the mix as he told Evan Grant and Barry Horn on the Dallas Morning News' baseball podcast earlier this week.
Everybody in baseball is thinking about their own depth. ... We have a couple young pitchers that pitched some significant innings for us last year in Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez and Anthony Ranaudo. So there is some experience there. I believe that given another spring training, that experience from last year [combined with] a new voice with these guys and a renewed energy on the pitching side -- not to take anything away from Mike Maddux -- the additions of [pitching coach] Doug Brocail and [bullpen coach] Brad Holman that I believe that these guys are going to be better. Would we like to have more depth? Absolutely. But I also think that we’re going to be stronger with Martin Perez and Derek Holland in the rotation. ... If you look at it, it’s a much stronger rotation than we started with last season.
That last part is key. And it's very true. Darvish was out before the season began, Holland was on the shelf for four months after just one inning of work, and Cole Hamels was pitching for the Phillies. So that's, at least, encouraging.