How will the rest of the pitching staff fare?
Pitching at Globe Life Park is a relative nightmare for anyone, but Rangers pitchers had an especially tough time in 2015, posting a home ERA of 4.48 against a mark of just 4.02 on the road. Among AL pitching staffs, the Rangers ranked 13th in team ERA, 12th in hits allowed, 13th in runs allowed, 15th in walks allowed, and 14th in strikeouts. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Rangers best starter from 2015, Yovani Gallardo (3.42 ERA in 33 starts), is currently unsigned despite being one of the few remaining MLB-caliber starters left on the market, when guys like Ian Kennedy (4.28 ERA in 2015), Mike Leake (4.07) and Jeff Samardzija (4.96) have all signed 5-year deals worth $70, $80, and $90 million dollars, respectively. Despite the lack of quality starting pitching in Arlington in 2015, it seems the Rangers aren’t inclined to bring Gallardo back for 2016.
The good news for Rangers fans is that they will be getting a full season of 2015 acquisition Cole Hamels, who posted a 3.66 ERA in Texas last season in 12 starts after accumulating a 3.64 mark in 20 starts with the Philadelphia Phillies. Young starters Nick Martinez, Martin Perez and Chi Chi Gonzalez will all get the opportunity to build off decent 2015 campaigns with an extra year of experience under their belts, and Derek Holland will have (presumably) a full season to try and reach the level he was at before missing most of 2015 with a shoulder injury.
Additionally, the Rangers bullpen was one of the best in the AL in the second half, posting a combined ERA of 3.79 after the All-Star break and improving its K/9 from 7.5 to 9.1, as well as increasing its K:BB ratio to 2.37, up from 2.19 in the first half. The bullpen core looks the be the strength of the staff in 2015, anchored by closer Shawn Tolleson and young flamethrower Keone Kela, who quietly posted a 2.39 ERA in 2015 as well as an outstanding 10.1 K/9 and even better 3.78 K:BB ratio. The rest of the group should be rounded out by Sam Dyson, Sam Freeman, and Jake Diekman, who all posted ERAs of 3.05 or below with the Rangers last season. Aforementioned acquisitions Wilhelmson and Barnette should make solid additions to the pen as well.