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Pitching Imperfection: Rangers Wont Be A .500 Club

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Manager Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona.

    The Rangers haven’t botched a grounder, lost a game or even thrown a pitch in 2015, and here I am already yearning for Ron Washington’s irrational, relentless optimism.

    Why? Because, well, I don’t these Rangers are headed for a winning season and I need the former manager to talk me into some excitement about Opening Day.

    I went into Spring Training thinking this team win maybe 85-87 games. But then I watched, and cringed, and lowered the bar.

    As we prepare for Monday night’s lid-lifter in Oakland, I see this pitching staff without Yu Darvish and can’t help but predict 81 wins is the max. Reality says more like 75.

    They only won 67 last year and without their pitching ace I just don’t see how they’re going to be 14 games better. Do you?

    OK, let’s be positive for a second. Prince Fielder is back. Shin-Soo Choo is healthier. Derek Holland should be on the mound soon and Martin Perez might return around the All-Star break.

    That’s four key pieces that were missing for most of last year’s epic shambles. But for the Rangers to win – and contend – they’ll have to get off-the-charts seasons from Elvis Andrus, Leonys Martin and Yovani Gallardo, and a big déjà vu from closer Neftali Feliz.

    But let’s not kid ourselves. Only eight players remain from the team that lost Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. This outfit is far from championship caliber.

    It starts, of course, with pitching.

    Fielder will hit 30+ homers and Adrian Beltre will drive in 100+ runs, but can the Rangers get anybody out?

    In 2014 the Rangers had the third-highest ERA in baseball and this spring they had the highest. Now take away the ace and … Yeah, yikes. If you believe in this pitching staff you must have had a long chat Sunday with the Easter Bunny. After Gallardo and Holland and maybe Colby Lewis, the starters are iffy and the bullpen is relatively inexperienced.

    If you liked the days of the ‘90s Rangers, you’ll enjoy this season. They’ll win some games 9-7. But unfortunately, they’ll lose even more.

    Prediction: 78-84.

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.