Jun 13, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Joe Nathan (36) pitches during the eighth inning of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers beat the Diamondbacks 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
A look at the Rangers' pitchers, from a fantasy baseball manager's perspective.
The Rangers are oozing fantasy opportunities, especially for hitters. Just as their ballpark works in their favor on offense, it hurts them on the mound. But good fantasy owners check under every rock, so let's consider the merits of the Rangers pitching staff.
Yu Darvish - I think Darvish is a really good sell high option if you own him. He's getting wins and K's, with a tolerable ERA. The WHIP has been ugly, but the hype machine has been in full effect with him. If someone in your league will trade you a top 25 pitcher for him, bite on it, because I don't think Darvish will finish that high.
Darvish has a fairly intolerable flaw: he walks everybody, and hitters are starting to figure this out. I realize we are looking at a fairly small sample size, but it seems now that the book on him has started to develop, and his wildness has grown. His Swing% is dropping over time, despite facing the Angels twice over his last ten starts, one of the most free-swinging teams in baseball. This means batters are starting to exercise more patience, swinging less often, resulting in more hitter's counts. That means he will have to find of way to generate more misses on pitches in the zone to succeed. I say sell high, before his numbers continue to slide.
Colby Lewis - Lewis is a bit of an anti-Darvish, limiting his walks to just 1.08 per 9. This has helped him post a bearable ERA of 3.51, and a superb WHIP of 1.08. He's sitting at just 6-6 on the year, but his K-rate has climbed to 8.1 per 9. So what's not to like? Well that walk rate, which is driving the low WHIP number as well, is bound to rise. It's half his previous best, set last year. Just a small regression there will impact his ERA and WHIP negatively. If he's available in your league, I wouldn't recommend picking him up for the long term or trading for him. If you own him, he's another great sell high option, albeit his low total will likely temper your return.
Matt Harrison - He's been a great source of wins, with 9, but Harrison hasn't been a great option in any other category. With everything clocking in at or near expectations, Harrison is who we thought he was. As long as the Rangers offense is clicking, he'll continue to win, but that's never a guarantee. There are better options except in deep or AL only leagues.
Scott Feldman - Stay away. He's been unlucky, but he's been unlucky on top of meh.
Alexi Ogando - Last year he was a revelation through the All Star game, tossing some dazzling games, but he definitely fizzled out. This year he began in the bullpen, but got a start when Derek Holland hit the DL. Now with Oswalt in the rotation, Ogando is likely to only get starts in case of injury. Always a possibility, so keep an eye on him. Be ready to pounce if he returns to the starting rotation.
Derek Holland - I wasn't high on Holland this year, as he allows to too much contact to suceed in that ballpark. I put him in the same category as Harrison. The offense should provide him wins, but that's about it.
Roy Oswalt - Oswalt struggled in his minor league tune ups, but spun a nice start against the Rockies in Texas. He's an intriguing unknown, and I certainly can't fault someone for taking a flyer on him, but I'm staying away.
As an aging player, coming to a small ballpark, I won't be surprised if Oswalt struggles as the league gets acquainted with him. Looking at his past results, in the much more pitcher-friendly National League, Oswalt has really had only onegood fantasy season since 2007. Now, with age and ballpark working against him, and without a track record to support him, Oswalt can be expected to join the very large lower-middle class pool of fantasy pitchers. In standard mixed leagues, he maybe has a spot at the end of your roster, or as an injury replacement, but that's probably about all.
Joe Nathan - If you have him, keep him. If an owner is willing to deal him at a non-prohibitive cost, target him. He has the job locked down, he's been good, and his team will pile up wins and save opportunities.
The Bullpen -Nathan comes with a very real possibility for injury. Keep in mind that the Rangers are not short on replacement options. Mike Adams, Mark Lowe, Koji Uehara and Neftali Felix (after they get healthy) are all options to close. Adams is probably first up, and while he hasn't been lights out this year, he's been good, and would be stepping into a wonderful opportunity for saves.