The Dallas Morning News
Rangers count on new trio of pitchers
Fister, Minor, Moore vie for rotation roles but have much to prove
Of the Rangers’ three most significant additions of the offseason, one did not have a job at this time last year, another spent 2015-16 on the disabled list and the third had the highest ERA in the majors last season.
That would be right-hander Doug Fister and left-handers Mike Minor and Matt Moore. They are key elements to a massive makeover of the rotation.
Pitchers who accounted for 99 starts last season are no longer in the organization. It is the biggest change since 2006, when the Rangers did not bring back pitchers who had 125 starts in the previous season.
A look at the newcomers:
Fister was out of a job at this time last year following a lackluster showing with Houston in 2016. He signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels in May, received a requested release in June and went to Boston on a waiver claim. The Red Sox helped Fister get his delivery back on track.
“It’s a real shock when you’re at home and people are playing,’’ Fister said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back.’’
Minor did not pitch in the majors in 2015-16 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in the left shoulder while with Atlanta. Minor was 38-36 with a 4.10 ERA for 110 starts with Atlanta from 2010-14. He worked out of the bullpen for Kansas City last season.
“I took the attitude last year of just being on the field and competing rather than put pressure on myself,” Minor said. “I’ll take it that way again rather than putting pressure on myself to get guys out because I know I can.”
San Francisco dumped salary in the deal that sent Moore to the Rangers for two minor league arms. Despite working at a home park that heavily favors pitchers, Moore had the highest ERA among major league qualifiers last season at 5.52.
“I’m definitely looking forward to turning the page as far as getting going with a new year,” Moore said.
Fister throws strikes and gets ground-ball outs. For his career, he has allowed only 2.1 walks per nine innings and has a ground-ball rate of 49.2 percent.
Minor also throws strikes but has more strikeout capability. He has averaged 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings for his career and averaged 10.2 last season. Minor gets strikeouts with the four-seam fastball and a hard curveball.
Moore has the pitches to be dazzling. He can keep the four-seam fastball at 94 mph and has a swing-and-miss curveball to go with a good changeup. When on, Moore can be very good.
Fister needs good defense behind him, because the ball will be put in play often. For his career, he has averaged 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings with 9.2 hits.
Minor has not pitched more than three innings in a game against major league hitters since his 2015 shoulder surgery.
Moore has been inconsistent with command of all pitches throughout his career. He has the fifth-highest walks-per-nine rate since 2012 among major leaguers with 750 innings at 3.77.
Fister, the first free agent to sign, would be the bargain of the free-agent class by continuing the career resurrection that began with Boston. His ceiling is as a No. 4 or 5 starter.
Minor is only 30 and not that far removed from a strong showing with Atlanta in 2013: 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA in 2042/3 innings. He also presents a possibility as a closer because of his strikeout ability.
Moore will take the ball. He has made more than 30 starts in each of the last two seasons. A fifth starter who can do that is valuable.
Fister needs the support of good infield defense because his sinker will be put in play. Opponents have a batting average on balls put in play against Fister of .302 for the last five seasons.
Minor has not pitched more than 150 innings since 2013. He would have to nearly double last season’s total as a reliever with Kansas City to reach that level.
Moore has had an ERA of more than 5.00 in two of the last three seasons. In that span, he ranks 72nd out of 78 major leaguers with at least 500 innings for ERA at 4.85.