Rangers Should Tread Lightly Down Stretch
As a disclaimer, we'll just go ahead and put this out there before we get started: The Rangers shouldn't fold up shop on 2015 yet, so don't interpret this that way.
But, with their acquisition of ace Cole Hamels from Philadelphia, the Rangers' starting rotation for the 2016 and 2017 seasons is looking to be pretty salty and most importantly, it's pretty much set.
When Yu Darvish returns from Tommy John surgery in 2016, he'll paired atop the Rangers' rotation with Hamels and they'll be followed by what the Rangers hope is a healthy Derek Holland and a fully returned from Tommy John version of Martin Perez.
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Their No. 5 starter could be Colby Lewis, or it could be Nick Martinez or Chi Chi Gonzalez. It doesn't really matter. It's going to be one of the best rotations in baseball if all goes as planned.
The Rangers have a top 10 offense that will be boosted this winter when the Rangers use their cash freed up in the Hamels deal to go get some right-handed bats. They'll also try to shore up their bullpen.
We've said this before, we know, but the Rangers look to be in pretty good shape in 2016.
Done knocking on wood yet? Well, here's what we need to focus on for the Rangers for the remainder of 2015.
The chances of the Rangers getting in the postseason are slim. FanGraphs puts their chances at 3 percent. It would take a miracle, and miracles don't happen very often.
So, the Rangers need to look to go easy on Hamels once he's here. He's eclipsed 200 innings in six of the last seven seasons and is currently at 128 2/3 with roughly 10 more starts. If the Rangers fall out of contention completely, they might look to skip a Hamels start or two.
They'll need to do the same with Perez. Treat him with kid gloves. It's prudent. Same goes for Holland when he returns in a couple of weeks. Perez and Holland need to pitch, but they don't need to be throwing a ton of pitches in the process.
On the same note, once the Rangers fall out of realistic Wild Card contention, give Prince Fielder a day here and there. Same for Adrian Beltre.
Make no mistake, the Rangers see their window to do something special as 2016 and 2017 while Hamels and Darvish are both in the equation, so there's no reason to risk anything for the short term.