Everyone knows the ultimate goal of the Texas Rangers when they acquired Cole Hamels at the trade deadline last year was to see him and Yu Darvish atop the starting rotation for years to come.
Granted, Hamels ended up propelling the Rangers to a surprising AL West crown last year, but now is when things get really interesting.
That's because Darvish is set to return from about 14 months out of action after Tommy John surgery some time in late May or early June as one of baseball's select few ace pitchers. Hamels also falls into that category. That combination would give the Rangers two No. 1 starters, which is something not many teams in baseball can claim to have, especially not in the American League.
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In a recent chat with The Dallas Morning News' baseball podcast, Hamels said he and Darvish have been pushing each other and it's exciting to him to see how hard Darvish has worked to get back.
It's been kind of fun, because we see each other in the weight room, we acknowledge each other, but out on the field we're getting a better understanding of our work ethic. I think we're going to challenge each other in a sense where it's going to be fun. It really is. It's like anybody. We try to keep each other accountable because we know how good we are and how much talent we actually have and you want to see it out there. You want to see it out in the field of play, so that's kind of what it is. Like we said before, you don't want guys to take it easy and I know he doesn't take it easy. You watch him throw his bullpens and play catch and he's got a way about him of a focus, so that's great to see. I think that's something we can push each other to become better.
We wrote on Monday about pitching coach Doug Brocail's excitement that Darvish might actually be changing his projected timeline of return because he's simply so far ahead of schedule. If Darvish can return to his 2013 and 2014 form, and you pair that with Hamels, this is going to be a fun season for baseball in Arlington.