Texas Rangers All-Time Team: Pitching Staff

Chris Halicke

Last time around, I made my choices for the position players on my Texas Rangers all-time 26-man roster. To be honest, that was exceptionally easier to decide.

Looking back at the franchise's pitchers, there are a lot of variables to consider. After all, lists are subjective. Everyone values different statistics when looking at any position on the field, but the pitching side comes with its own unique challenges. Despite the Rangers being one of four franchises that have not produced a Cy Young winner, that doesn't mean the franchise is void of talent from the mound.

In the same way that I chose the position players, these decisions are based solely off their time in a Rangers uniform. 

Starting Rotation

Nolan Ryan

Years with Rangers: 5 seasons (1989-1993)
Career Stats with Rangers: 51-39 record, 3.43 ERA, 129 Starts, 840 IP, 939 SO, 1.13 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 1-time All Star, Texas Rangers No. 34 retired, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame (2003), National Baseball Hall of Fame (1999)

Comment: Is there a player more synonymous with Texas Rangers baseball than Nolan Ryan? Despite spending the last five of his 27-year career with the Rangers, he continued to be a dominant force on the mound well into his 40's. He struck out his 5,000th batter and threw two of his MLB-record seven no-hitters in a Rangers uniform. I don't think much else needs said for the Ryan Express and his impact on the Texas Rangers organization. 

Kenny Rogers

Years with Rangers: 12 seasons (1989-1995, 2000-2002, 2004-2005)
Career Stats with Rangers: 133-96 record, 4.16 ERA, 252 Starts, 1,909 IP, 1,201 SO, 1.41 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 3-time All Star, 4-time Gold Glove winner, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame (2011)

Comment: Kenny Rogers is the longest tenured pitcher in Rangers history and ranks in the top 10 in a number of pitching categories. Four Gold Gloves adds defensive excellence to his pitching accomplishments. Rogers had a very solid career with a number of teams, but his ultimate accomplishment is the only perfect game in Rangers history. He's done more than enough to be an obvious choice for the all-time starting rotation.

Yu Darvish

Years with Rangers: 6 seasons (2012-2017)
Career Stats with Rangers: 52-39 record, 3.42 ERA, 122 Starts, 782.2 IP, 960 SO, 1.18 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 4-time All Star

Comment: If a Japanese pitching prospect ever panned out, the marriage of the Rangers and Yu Darvish could be the marquee example. Darvish was a dominant force in the Rangers rotation for five seasons (he missed all of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery). His 2013 season was arguably the best single season in Rangers history from a starting pitching standpoint, when he registered a 2.83 ERA and struck out 277 batters in 209 2/3 innings. He was the runner-up to Detroit's Max Scherzer for the AL Cy Young award. 

Darvish nearly threw two no-hitters (one of which a perfect game), both times giving up a hit with only one out remaining from clinching history.

Ferguson Jenkins

Years with Rangers: 6 seasons (1974-1975, 1978-1981)
Career Stats with Rangers: 93-72 record, 3.56 ERA, 190 Starts, 1,410.1 IP, 895 SO, 1.17 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: Texas Rangers Hall of Fame (2004), National Baseball Hall of Fame (1991)

Comment: It would be really difficult to leave Fergie Jenkins off the all-time roster. Yes, he is more known for his tenure as a Chicago Cub, but he's the only 25-game winner in Rangers history. Jenkins leads the franchise with 17 shutouts and ranks in the top-10 in just about every major pitching category. He pitched in a different era where starting pitchers consistently eclipsed 200 innings, but his durability and stout performance earned him a spot in the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2004. 

Colby Lewis

Years with Rangers: 9 seasons (2002-2004, 2010-2016)
Career Stats with Rangers: 77-70 record, 4.65 ERA, 194 Starts, 1,174.1 IP, 933 SO, 1.33 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: N/A

Comment: I have an affinity for big-game pitchers. In a time where baseball statistics have never been more relied on, I'm going against the grain and going with arguably the best big-game pitcher in Rangers history. His postseason stats far supersede those in the regular season and his performance in Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS to clinch the American League pennant is one of the best pitching performances in franchise history. He also won the first World Series game ever in the franchise's history with a 7 2/3-inning performance against the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants in 2010.

Bullpen

Long relief: C.J. Wilson

Years with Rangers: 7 seasons (2005-2011)
Career Stats with Rangers: 43-35 record, 3.60 ERA, 52 Saves, 325 Games (73 Starts), 708 IP, 637 SO, 1.29 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 1-time All Star

Comment: C.J. Wilson's Rangers' career was a rollercoaster ride until he established himself as a starter in 2010. Ultimately, he became the club's best starting pitcher in the two AL championship seasons in 2010 and 2011 and finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting in 2011. His run as a reliever allows the excuse of having him coming out of the bullpen in this all-time roster, though he was much more effective in two seasons as a starter than he was in five seasons as a failed starter-turned-reliever.

Long relief: Charlie Hough

Years with Rangers: 11 seasons (1980-1990)
Career Stats with Rangers: 139-123 record, 3.68 ERA, 1 Save, 344 Games (313 Starts), 2,308 IP, 1,452 SO, 1.28 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 1-time All Star, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame (2003)

Comment: Only second to Kenny Rogers in tenure, Charlie Hough was just as durable as any pitcher for Texas. Hough became a staple in the Rangers' rotation from 1982-1990 after Texas converted him into a starter after purchasing him from the Dodgers in 1980. Same as with C.J. Wilson, I'm utilizing the loophole of Hough's time as a reliever to put him in the bullpen, though he is more known for his time as a starter with the Rangers.

Closer: John Wetteland

Years with Rangers: 4 seasons (1997-2000)
Career Stats with Rangers: 20-12 record, 2.95 ERA, 150 Saves, 248 Games, 253 IP, 248 SO, 1.19 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 2-time All Star, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame (2005)

Comment: John Wetteland made the jump from the Bronx to the Lone Star State after earning back-to-back saves in the Yankees' defeat of the Rangers in the 1996 ALDS. Wetteland would go on to become the most decorated closer in franchise history, recording at least 31 saves in all four seasons spent with Texas. He earned two all star appearances when he had two 40-save seasons in 1998 and 1999. Wetteland still holds the franchise record for saves and is second all-time with a save conversion rate of 84.7 percent.

Neftali Feliz

Years with Rangers: 7 seasons (2009-2015)
Career Stats with Rangers: 13-10 record, 2.69 ERA, 93 Saves, 216 Games, 261.1 IP, 242 SO, 1.06 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 1-time All Star, 2010 AL Rookie of the Year

Comment: Neftali Feliz is a close second to Wetteland in franchise closer allure. Feliz owns the highest save conversion rate in franchise history at 86.9 percent. The Dominican-born flamethrower quickly became known as one of the dominant closers in baseball after supplanting Frank Francisco in 2010. The Rangers tried to convert him into a starter in 2012, but his rotation bid was derailed rather swiftly when he required Tommy John surgery. Feliz came back as a reliever in late-2013 and remained there until the Rangers designated him for assignment in mid-2015. Feliz's run in 2010-2011 is still one of the greatest stretches ever for a Rangers reliever.

Jeff Russell

Years with Rangers: 10 seasons (1985-1992; 1995-1996)
Career Stats with Rangers: 42-20 record, 3.73 ERA, 134 Saves, 445 Games (39 Starts), 752.2 IP, 474 SO, 1.37 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 2-time All Star, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame (2015)

Comment: Jeff Russell's 134 saves rank second all-time in Rangers history. His back-to-back seasons in 1988-1989 are quite interesting. He was an all star in both seasons – once as a starter in '88 and then as a reliever in '89. His AL-best 38 saves in 1989 along with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP is one of the most dominant seasons for any reliever in club history. 

Francisco Cordero

Years with Rangers: 7 seasons (2000-2006)
Career Stats with Rangers: 21-20 record, 3.45 ERA, 117 Saves, 356 Games, 397 IP, 393 SO, 1.37 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 1-time All Star

Comment: Francisco Cordero was a stable pitcher in an unstable time regarding Rangers pitching. His 2004 all star season was quite impressive. He boasted a 2.13 ERA while setting a franchise single-season record with 49 saves. He maintained his value throughout the next couple of seasons, allowing general manager Jon Daniels to include him in a package that brought Nelson Cruz to Texas. 

Frank Francisco

Years with Rangers: 6 seasons (2004-2010)
Career Stats with Rangers: 17-15 record, 3.75 ERA, 32 Saves, 277 Games, 283.1 IP, 315 SO, 1.29 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: N/A

Comment: Along with Cordero, Frankie Francisco was another quality reliever during the 2000's. He was a reliable setup man and spent time as the primary closer in 2009 and the beginning of 2010 before Feliz took over the role. Also similar to Cordero, Francisco's value allowed Jon Daniels to swap him for catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli after the 2010 season.

Alexi Ogando

Years with Rangers: 5 seasons (2010-2014)
Career Stats with Rangers: 28-16 record, 3.35 ERA, 4 Saves, 183 Games (48 Starts), 406 IP, 325 SO, 1.19 WHIP
Career Awards with Rangers: 1-time All Star

Comment: Similar to Jeff Russell, Alexi Ogando enjoyed success as both a starter and a reliever. Ogando's lone all star season was as a starter in 2011 after a dominant run out of the bullpen in 2010. Ogando was as good as any Rangers pitcher in 2010-2011 and was very good in 2012-2013. His one achilles heel – the St. Louis Cardinals. Ogando had a 10.13 ERA in six appearances and walked seven Redbirds in the 2011 World Series.  

Do you agree with our list? What changes would you make? Leave your opinion below in the comments section.

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