Since the Rangers failed to land really any of their off-season targets, there are several questions facing the team heading into spring training and the 2013 season.
Today's Question: Who will fill out the starting rotation?
With the Texas Rangers, the question has always been how the team's pitching will perform as the offense has never really been a question. For a long time, the answer was "awful" but in recent years, mainly since Nolan Ryan got involved in the organization, the picture has changed. Now, the Rangers have one of the better rotations in the American League and a lineup that is now void of two of its biggest sources of power previously.
We all know Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison will front the rotation, barring a blockbuster trade for a big-time ace like David Price, and that's a great position to be in atop the rotation. After that, it's Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando — promising, but not without question. Then comes the fifth spot in the rotation, which right now, is totally up in the air.
The Rangers could go with a proven commodity and sign St. Louis Cardinals free agent Kyle Lohse, but he's a Scott Boras guy so the chances of that happening seem slim and the club has said they aren't in on the right-hander. It seems the fifth starter will come from within the organization, and that could be one of many options.
There's Martin Perez, who made his starting debut in 2012 and had very mixed results but is still a very young 21 years old. He'd probably be best served to start the season in the minors. There's the older Justin Grimm, who also got a big-league taste in 2012 and had results as mixed as Perez's, but who already has a plus-pitch (when it's working) in his 12-6 breaking ball. The other option right now seems to be lefty reliever Robbie Ross, who was a starter in the minor leagues before making a huge splash in the Rangers' bullpen last season as a surprising Opening Day big-leaguer. Colby Lewis, the Rangers' rock over the years, is set for a summer return from arm surgery, but who knows how that will go.
You'd hate to lose Ross' versatility and effectiveness out of what is already a thin bullpen.
Who do you think will grab the fifth spot? If the Rangers don't sign or trade for someone, it would seem Perez is the favorite right now, even though he might be better served by pitching for a bit in the minors to start the season.