The Rangers were hit with a huge blow with Yu Darvish's injury. Are all hopes lost for Texas in the coming season, or is there still value to be had on the MLB futures odds board?
The 2014 Season
Injuries were a pain in the neck last season as well for the Rangers, who finished with an awful 67-95 record. They were dead last in the AL West and had the third-worst record in all of baseball. Things got so bad that Ron Washington stepped down in the middle of the season.
Adrian Beltre was one of the few highlights for Texas, batting .324 with 19 homers and 77 RBI, but he was the only Rangers regular that hit over .300 for the season. On the pitching front, Yu Darvish was solid when healthy (10-7, 3.06 ERA), while Derek Holland made a successful return late in the season, posting a 1.46 ERA in five starts.
Nonetheless, Texas was a huge disappointment overall in the 2014 season. Will things turn around at all in 2015?
In the first week of March, during a Spring Training outing, Yu Darvish lasted only one inning before being pulled from the game due to soreness in his right triceps. He was diagnosed with a sprained UCL and soon after underwent successful Tommy John surgery, which means Darvish will miss the entire 2015 season. He could also miss the start of the 2016 campaign too.
It's a devastating blow for a Texas team that was going to count on their ace to hold up a shaky rotation.
Who Steps Up?
With Darvish out, Derek Holland immediately becomes the de-facto ace for the Rangers. The left-hander missed almost all of the 2014 season but returned to the fold late and made a very positive impression. Texas will desperately need him to fill that gap and become a true number one if they want to contend in the AL West.
The Rangers will also be counting on Yovani Gallardo, who had previously been with Milwaukee his entire career. Despite an 8-11 win-loss record last season, he posted a solid 3.51 ERA and 1.29 WHIP with a 146:54 K:BB ratio in 192.1 innings of work. Consistency has been an issue for Gallardo throughout his career, and it remains to be seen just how reliable he'll be in Arlington this season.
Then there's the likes of Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler, Nick Martinez and Nick Tepesch, who will surely all have their chance to make an impression and crack the rotation. We're not exactly overly optimistic about that group, however, and that can't be ignored while you make your MLB picks.
It's that Texas offense what's really going to have to elevate their production and make up for the lack of quality pitching. Beltre is still around and he's going to be a steady performer as always, while the addition of Prince Fielder is going to add some needed pop. Alex Rios isn't with the ballclub any longer, so it'll be up to guys like Rougned Odor, Nate Schierholtz, Shin-Shoo Choo, Mitch Moreland, Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus to step their game up.
Oddsmakers have had their say, pricing out Texas at +4500 to win the World Series, which puts them alongside the likes of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, who are right around the same number.
If we narrow it down to the American League pennant, the Rangers are third-from-bottom on the list, ahead of only the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins. The odds aren't very favorable whatsoever.
As you can see, Darvish's injury has had a huge effect on the MLB odds, and it's hard to disagree with the top sportsbooks. The lack of reliable starting pitching is going to be an Achilles' heel once more, and it's likely going to be another very long season for Texas.
With that said, we can safely avoid them with our futures picks.