Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers pitches during a spring training game.
People can argue until they're blue in the face over who the Texas Rangers' best pitcher is. Looking at stats from last year, you could make a solid argument for Matt Harrison, but when looking at pure stuff and upside, the answer should unquestionably be Yu Darvish.
Whatever the case, the Rangers have announced their Opening Day starter for their March 31 game in Houston that will be televised on ESPN as the only MLB game going that night before the rest of the league opens up the following day, and it's Harrison.
The announcement came as no surprise as manager Ron Washington has shown the tendency to reward pitchers for their past season by giving them the ceremonial Opening Day nod, and Harrison was the best pitcher the team had from start to finish in 2012, even though Darvish closed the year looking like the ace the Rangers hoped he'd be when they signed him out of Japan.
Darvish is slated to start the Rangers' second game against the Astros, on April 2, and Harrison will also be in line to start the Rangers' home opener against the Los Angeles Angels and Josh Hamilton on April 5. Darvish will be in line to make his second start in the series finale against the Angels on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball on April 7.
Harrison, 27, is now set to be the Rangers' fourth Opening Day starter in as many seasons, following Scott Feldman, C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, who were all rewarded for being the club's top pitcher the previous season.
"He was the most deserving guy after last season," Washington told assembled media. "I thought he was most deserving of this opportunity. He was excited and it was something he wanted, but he wasn't going to ask for it."
Last season, Harrison went 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA in 213 1/3 innings, which got him a $55 million extension this offseason. Darvish was 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and led rookies in strikeouts while closing out the season on a high note over his final eight starts.