No Darvish? So is there still a path to the postseason for the Rangers? As a matter of fact, there is.
This is a lousy break for the Texas Rangers. Let’s begin by acknowledging that much. No use sugarcoating it. In terms of pure stuff, Yu Darvish is right there with any pitcher in the game.
His 2013 season was Darvish at his best: 32 starts, 209.2 innings, 277 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA. The Rangers figured he was capable of putting those numbers on the board again in 2015.
They’re a team of unknowns, especially regarding the health of some of their core players. With Prince Fielder, Shin Soo-Choo and Darvish all healthy, the Rangers have a chance to win 90-plus games. Without one of them, the math changes.
Amid reports that Darvish may undergo Tommy John surgery, the Rangers will once more be dipping into the pitching depth GM Jon Daniels has accumulated. That depth–in fact the overall minor league talent–was a reason to believe the Rangers could sustain success in the years ahead.
Now, though, they’re going to need some of that pitching depth in 2015. If you’re wondering why the Rangers don’t make a play for Cole Hamels, that’s an easy one. This isn’t the time.
The Rangers are one of the few franchises that have the young pitching depth to make a deal, but until Daniels has a better handle on his team, there’s no point in making a go-for-it deal.
Instead, the Rangers need to get a better gauge of what they already have. The Rangers are in good shape in terms of veteran depth: Derek Holland, Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis and Ross Detwiler.
That’s a much more imposing growth when you put Darvish’s 220 innings up near the top of the group. Without him, it’s missing a bunch of quality innings.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Behind that group are younger pitchers like Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez and Anthony Ranaudo. At various times, all of them have been high-ceiling prospects.
Even more interesting are the kids behind that group: Luke Jackson and Alex Gonzalez and Jake Thompson. Daniels was hoping that all of them would get important developmental innings in the minor leagues this season. Now the timetable could look a bit different.
The larger point is that the Rangers can still be in the conversation in an AL West that looks difficult. One of the things Daniels has done better than almost any other GM is built tremendous depth in the system.
Last season revealed holes in the upper parts of the system, but when the Rangers fast-tracked some of their kids, they passed every test and seem poised to contribute at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Kids don’t come with guarantees. Kids can disappoint. Kids can also do amazing things. Teams counting on young players–for instance, Tampa Bay–aren’t going to be favorites because of the unknown factor.
The Rangers weren’t going to be a playoff favorite even with Darvish at his best. They don’t appear to be as good as the Angels and Mariners and probably aren’t as good as the A’s.
Now they’ve got to recalibrate things again. Some of those kids may be called on sooner than expected. But the Rangers are more prepared to absorb an injury like this one than most other clubs.