ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
It was widely assumed Derek Holland would be named the third starter behind Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison, especially when you consider the pretty strong spring Holland had after re-discovering his change-up and pitching well for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Instead, he'll be the fourth starter as the Rangers start the season this coming week and reliever-turned starter-turned reliever-turned starter Alexi Ogando will open the season as the No. 3 starter, taking the mound on Wednesday in Houston to close out a three-game set with the new AL West bunkmates, and likely cellar dwellers.
Rangers manager Ron Washington made the announcement on Wednesday and said the teams the Rangers will face on the respective days played no factor in his decision.
That's most likely a white lie, as there's really no reason to put Ogando in front of Holland as far as pitching hierarchy goes considering the struggles Ogando had this spring, until his final start which was dominant.
Harrison is getting the Opening Night nod in a ceremonial role (he's not better than Darvish) so when the regular rotation gets set and Darvish gets precedence Washington could be looking to split up his lefties in the rotation and have Harrison at No. 2 and Holland at No. 4. But the more likely explanation is that Washington wants to ease Ogando back into the starting rotation, especially after his rough spring, by letting him pitch against the Astros and their Triple-A lineup instead of the Angels and their Hall of Fame lineup that Holland will be facing in the home opener on April 5.
Holland is a major X-Factor for the Rangers' season and here's to saying the inconsistent lefty is going to have a big year in the Rangers' rotation. Pay no mind to this announcement, folks. Holland is the team's third-best starter and if he ever reaches his potential he could be the second-best.