Through the end of June, the Rangers rotation has taken the ball 76 times. Only 6 pitchers have made more than 2 starts, so we will focus on those guys. Kevin Millwood, Scott Feldman, and Vicente Padilla have taken the most turns, then Matt Harrison and Brandon McCarthy both have 11 starts a piece. Finally, Derek Holland has 6 starts under his belt.
As you might expect, June was not a bed of roses for any part of this team. Let's take a look and see how it worked out for the starting rotation.
Just so we are all up to speed with the different stats, IPS is Innings Per Start, PPS is Pitches Per Start, and I am guessing you understand everything else. Also, a special thanks to Adam Morris of Lonestarball.com for suggesting we add HR/9 and BB/9 to our list of stats after last month's report came out.
Kevin Millwood Splits
Millwood has been rock solid. His June was absolutely wonderful across the board, and his strikeout rate was easily the best of the season.
Now 16 starts into his season, he has worked 29 more innings than anyone else in the rotation. So, whether you want quality or quantity, Kevin Millwood has answered the bell and brought everything he has had to the table. His ERA has been far better than anyone could expect, and there is no reason to concern yourself too much about the Rangers staying in the race when they can expect 7 innings of quality from Millwood every 5 days.
Brandon McCarthy Splits
After an encouraging May, the Brandon McCarthy express slammed into the wall at Yankee Stadium back on June 4th, and we have not seen him since.
The bottom line for McCarthy was this: Could he take the ball 30 times this season for the Rangers and prove he has the durability to pitch in the big leagues? If he can, then we have a feeling that his mechanics and overall pitching ability can then be developed by Mike Maddux or whoever.
The answer appears to be no, and with his return far from imminent, we have to wonder where he fits in the big picture for the Rangers this winter when they start to assemble their rotation for 2010.
Matt Harrison Splits
Harry has also hit the wall, but perhaps his wall was after his back-to-back complete games on 5/8 and 5/14. Since then, he has started 4 games, is 0-3, with a 10.61 ERA, with opponents hitting .402 off of him. Now, how much of that can be explained away with his various health issues? I obviously have no idea, but this certainly demonstrates that it is a journey to become a reliable big league pitcher. 6 weeks ago, we couldn't believe how solid he looked, and today, we wonder where his story will take us next.
Scott Feldman Splits
Scott Feldman is a pitcher. He knows how to pitch. And, I think we all know what that means as it applies to his success in 2009. He doesn't put runners on base. His WHIP is very low, his BB/9 is low, and the league hits .221 off of him (by far, the best on the staff).
While his June numbers may be his least impressive, in some ways they could be considered his finest work, because now there is a book on Feldman. Teams know what to expect of him, and yet, he still gives the Rangers his routine 6-inning starts where he generally puts few runners on base and leaves the game in a spot where they have a good chance to win.
Vicente Padilla Splits
With Padilla, his June looks pretty weak, but if you actually perform the split after his debacle at Yankee Stadium when the Rangers actually ran him through waivers, he has been strong since. 3-1, in 5 starts since the incident, with his only loss being this Monday against the Angels. His 4 starts between the Yankees start and the Angels start he was awesome. 3-0, 2.16 ERA, with opponents hitting .231.
His walk rate is still high, which is driving his WHIP up, and over the long term, you cannot get away with putting that many runners on base.
With Padilla, it always seems like he is solid - as long as you don't depend on him completely. It seems that he is perfectly cast this year as a 2nd behind Millwood and in front of Feldman. Nowhere near as strong as Millwood, but when he is on his game, he can be dynamite.
Derek Holland As A Starter
Derek is learning that the big leagues can be a difficult process at first. His K/9 are out of this world, but everything else is well off where he needs to be. Through 6 starts, the major leagues are finding very little difficulty in hitting the ball hard off of Holland.
It is still very early, but the idea that Holland will be the key to the rotation down the stretch in 2009 seems a bit far-fetched from the early returns. His starts against Houston and San Francisco are very solid, but overall, getting slugged at a .526 clip (.573 vs AL teams) is certainly not going to get it done.
By the way, all of these Holland numbers are as a starter.
Starting Rotation Totals
Only 3 teams in the major leagues (Balt, Wash, Pitt) have fewer strikeouts from their rotations, but only 1 team is getting more pitches (Boston) per start from that same rotation. The Rangers starters are giving their team 6 innings and 99.3 pitcher per start and a Quality Start on 47% of their occasions. This is keeping the bullpen reasonably fresh, and the team is staying quite competitive.
In June, the bats did take a step backwards, and the team struggled. But through the first 3 months of the season, I believe the returns remain quite strong for the rotation.