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ZiPS: No. 5 Starter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    ESPN's Dan Szymborski is a computer and stat guru, and we love getting a look at his projections. Here are his numbers for the 2014 Texas Rangers.

    Position: No. 5 starter

    Player: Colby Lewis, RHP

    Last year: Didn't pitch due to injury

    2014 projections: 4.85 ERA, 65 strikeouts, 22 walks, 78 innings, 9.23 hits/9 innings, 7.5 K/9 innings, 14 starts

    Lewis is one of the better, most intriguing stories in the Rangers' spring training. In July 2012, he was in the middle of a pretty darn good year when he was shut down and ended up needing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. He was set to return to the big-league mound in May or June of 2013 but suffered a setback and ended up needing hip resurfacing surgery — just shy of a hip replacement — on his chronically painful hip. Now, he's feeling like a brand new man, and it's easy to believe given how much pitchers rely on their legs.

    Now, if only the 34-year-old veteran can get back to what he was before the elbow injury. If you'll remember, Lewis was, and probably still is, the greatest postseason pitcher in Rangers history and is revered for his bulldog mentality and competitive fire, as well as being a good ol' innings eater. So far, the reports are all good out of Surprise, Ariz. Pitching coach Mike Maddux said he was "vintage Colby" and raved about his progress and the way he looks. All Lewis has said throughout spring training has been how good he feels physically.

    If, and it's still a big if, Lewis can reclaim his form, it would be a huge boost to a rotation that is missing Derek Holland until at least midseason and missing Matt Harrison for a short time but with questions looming as far as what he'll give when he's ready to go. If Lewis can be the Lewis of 2011, he could move his way up the pecking order in the rotation and could be as high as a No. 3 starter, and that would just be fantastic.