Spring training is just two months away for the Rangers, but there are still roster decisions to be made between now and then.
One will involve the starting pitching staff, which was an issue at times for the Rangers during the 2016 season due to injuries and inconsistency. Amazingly enough, they were still able to navigate those waters to win their second straight American League West Division title.
When the Rangers left Surprise, Arizona last season, the rotation was Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and A.J. Griffin. When they report to camp in February, they are looking at a rotation on paper of Yu Darvish, Hamels, Perez, Andrew Cashner and a fifth start to be named later. You can make the argument the starting pitching already looks stronger this time around.
But what about the fifth starter? Could Colby Lewis return to Arlington one more year to fill that spot? The 37-year old right-hander was 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 19 games last season, but missed time due to a strained lat muscle.
Lewis is considered one of the best big game pitchers in team history. He got the win over the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series that sent the Rangers to their first-ever World Series in 2010. Lewis also earned the only win the Rangers had in the Fall Classic, allowing two runs on five hits against the San Francisco Giants in Game 3. Overall, he’s 4-1 with a 3.11 ERA in postseason play.
However, general manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers might not have enough money to re-sign Lewis, who made $6 million last season. While that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement, the Rangers don’t seem to be completely closing the door on the idea of bringing Lewis back, possibly on another 1-year deal, considering the free agent marking is thin on starting pitching.
To make matters a little more complicated, the Rangers’ selected Mike Hauschild from the Houston Astro’s Triple-A roster in the Rule 5 draft and is considering him a rotation candidate. The 26-year old righty went 9-10 with a 3.22 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 24 games at Fresno. The scouting report is he uses his fastball and sinker/slider combo to be a productive ground ball pitcher. Hauschild, a 33rd round draft pick in 2012, has a 3.50 ERA in 124 games in the minors.
However, Hauschild isn’t guaranteed a spot, and with prospects such as Yohander Mendez, Brett Martin and Connor Sadzeck possibly a year away from being ready, another reunion for Lewis is not out of the question.
If the price is right.
By C. James