ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches during Game Four of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tony Gutierrez-Pool/Getty Images)
There aren't many true No. 1, ace-type guys in Major League Baseball. Teams like the Philadelphia Phillies have two, maybe three. The same goes for the Los Angeles Angels or the San Francisco Giants.
The Texas Rangers haven't had a true ace, with the exception of the four-month span in 2010 with Cliff Lee, in a very long time. C.J. Wilson proved in the postseason last year that he wasn't a true ace. But he was still plenty good.
A sub-3.00 ERA and 15-plus wins is ace-quality stuff, for sure. But C.J. just didn't scream "ace". Now, he's gone and the Rangers are left wondering who will fill his role as the team's No. 1. The answer is far from being clear, but it really doesn't matter.
With Derek Holland, Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz, with Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman being in the mix too, the Rangers have a solid, deep group of starting pitchers, none of which are likely No. 1s this year but you could make the argument that all are at least No. 3-caliber guys, No. 4 at worst.
Holland, Ogando and Harrison all had ERAs in the 3s last year, Lewis had a sub-4.00 ERA in 2010 and Darvish has never had an ERA above 2.00 as a full-time guy in Japan, which is a different brand of baseball for sure, but you'd have to think Darvish is capable of putting up a solid ERA in the majors.
So while most teams might have a No. 1, No. 2, two No. 4s and a No. 5, the Rangers could very well be throwing out three No. 2s and two No. 3s, or a No. 3 and a No. 4 to go with those three No. 2s. You take it out over a full season and the Rangers should have the pitching advantage in the majority of their games.
They were one strike away twice from winning the World Series in October, without an ace and with a No. 1 pitcher who fell flat on his face in the postseason. That should be more than enough proof that you don't need a No. 1 to be No. 1.