While the Texas Rangers' starting rotation was their most glaring deficiency in a near-100 loss season last year, fans can take solace in the fact that a big reason for that problem was the historically impactful rash of injuries the club suffered from the word "go," starting with Derek Holland's knee injury that forced him to miss the season's first five months.
This season, it appears everyone is healthy — most notably Holland and Colby Lewis, who was very good over last season's second half — and the Rangers also traded for a reliable innings-eater in Yovani Gallardo to serve as their No. 3 starter, which in turn allowed them to push Lewis back a spot to No. 4.
So with that said, let's take a look at the starting rotations in the AL West, and see where the Rangers' stacks up.
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1. Seattle Mariners — All you need to know is the Mariners have Felix Hernandez as their ace, and a very good Hisashi Iwakuma backing him up in the No. 2 spot. Throw in highly touted youngster James Paxton in the No. 3 hole, newly acquired vet J.A. Happ at No. 4 and last year's surprising rookie Roenis Elias, or possibly top prospect Taijuan Walker, as the No. 5 starter, and you're looking at a really, really strong bunch.
2. Texas Rangers — Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis and then some form of Nick Tepesch, Ross Detwiler or Nick Martinez, with the possibility of Martin Perez returning around the all-star break and the less likely scenario of Matt Harrison making a comeback, is a pretty salty rotation. Those top four will all have a great chance of winning double-digit games, which will keep the Rangers in the division race.
3. Oakland A's — Gone are Dan Straily and mercenaries Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester. That leaves only Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir left from last year's rotation, but the A's have always and will always have starting pitching — they just have to find it. There are also reinforcements coming in the form of both Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, who should both be back in the season's first half after season-ending injuries last year.
4. Los Angeles Angels — The Angels' ace, Garrett Richards, is very good. But there's a question of when he'll be ready after suffering a torn patella tendon late in the year last season. Jered Weaver is on a massive downhill slide, and C.J. Wilson is just plain awful.
5. Houston Astros — Scott Feldman is the Astros' ace. That's about all that needs to be said. Feldman has been a good pitcher since leaving the Rangers, but he's certainly not the anchor of a starting rotation in the big leagues.