Earlier today, my colleague Richie Whitt wrote the following regarding the Texas Rangers' projected win total set in Vegas for the 2015 season:
Last year the wise guys who set sports betting odds for a living established the Rangers’ over/under win total at 89.5. I took the under, but had no idea they would stumble and eventually crumble into 95 losses, or a whopping 22 wins shy of their projected total.
This year? Not much belief in the Rangers’ rebound strategy founded mainly upon the theory of improving from within with better health. The number set at popular betting site Bovada.com is … 77.5.
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So let that sink in for a moment. A team that won two straight AL pennants, lost a Wild Card Game and then played in a Game 163 to earn a spot in the Wild Card Game suffers catastrophic injuries to nearly every position player and its Nos. 2-4 starters and goes on to lose 90-plus games in 2014, and now they're left for dead?
It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and as Whitt wrote, I'm not buying it. I'd take the over on that 77.5 number and never look back for several reasons.
First off, the injury situation certainly won't be repeated. Losing the offense the Rangers lost was one thing, but the thing that really killed them was the pitching MASH unit. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez were all essentially lost for the season. The result? The Rangers led the league in losses of games in which they held a lead, presumably because their bullpen was so severely overworked it collapsed in June.
Holland is healthy and coming off a September in which he pitched like an ace, much less a No. 2 starter. Colby Lewis was awful over the season's first half and then figured out how to pitch again to put up a really solid second half as essentially the Rangers' ace. Now, he's the No. 4 starter. The Rangers traded for a proven innings eater and bulldog starter in Yovani Gallardo, who will be more than serviceable in the No. 3 slot.
Between Yu Darvish, Holland and Gallardo, you have to figure if they can stay healthy and pitch to their pedigree, the Rangers would theoretically be in position to win three of every five games, most of the time.
Not only am I saying the Rangers will finish above .500, but if those three can stay healthy, and Colby Lewis is serviceable, I'm thinking this team might be nearing the 90-win mark again in 2015. Take that, wise guys.