Wilson, Harrison Appear Headed for the Rangers Rotation
At this point in the spring calendar the Rangers won't announce anything about roster spots and the rotation, but anyone paying attention can read between the lines and make an educated projection.
Looking at the pitching schedule with the help of multiple sources the Rangers rotation, while unofficial, appears to be set in the wake of Tommy Hunter's injury last week.
Rich Harden gets opening day followed by C.J. Wilson, Scott Feldman, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis.
Unlike in seasons past, the Rangers plan to use their fifth starter regardless of days off taking advantage of the extra rest for Harden while keeping Lewis in a routine as he comes back from Japan.
The order is important as the two lefties break up the right-handers and Scott Feldman gets the first start on the road where he excelled last season.
C.J. Wilson returns to the rotation for the first time since he took some lumps in his rookie season, but Wilson is not the same pitcher he was then.
He has a feel for pitching now and focuses on staying in the moment of the inning instead of throwing the kitchen sink at the batter he's facing. This has allowed Wilson to streamline his pitches and become more consistent.
What is most intriguing about Wilson will be his transition from pitching on adrenaline late in the game to staying calm and spreading his arm out over 7-9 innings.
So far so good there this spring, but the regular season and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington are different animals entirely. With a rehabbing Tommy Hunter eyeing the rotation spot he had until his injury, Wilson has no margin of error in April.
Another thing to consider in regards to Wilson is the state of the Rangers bullpen. With Darren O'Day battling an elbow bruise and yet to really get some innings in, it's possible he could open the season on the DL.
If the bullpen struggles without Wilson pitching the eighth inning the Rangers may be forced to re-insert him into the bullpen regardless of how he is pitching as a starter.
Ron Washington has made it clear the only argument against keeping Wilson in the bullpen is team needs. For now the need for Wilson to be in the pen isn't all that large, but if O'Day can't pitch until late in the spring and thus won't be ready to go, the Rangers may have no choice but to replace Wilson with Hunter and move him back to the eigth inning setup role.
One guy who isn't going anywhere is the slimmed down Matt Harrison, who showed flashes of brilliance last season before season ending surgery and has been lights out this spring.
As with all young pitchers he must continue building on what he accomplished last season and thus far in Spring Training to keep his spot, but unlike Wilson, his rotation security is entirely up to him.
Provided the injury to O'Day doesn't hold him back to start the season the Rangers pitching staff appears to be set...on March 24th.
When was the last time that happened in Arlington?