The Rangers have announced their rotation to open the season, and it's pretty questionable. The team was already entering the year with a couple of question marks in the rotation, but a slow recovery from Colby Lewis and injuries to Yu Darvish and Derek Holland have drastically thinned the club's depth. Due to those issues, the team's rotation consists of Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Joe Saunders and Nick Martinez. Do any of these guys have value in Fantasy leagues?
The short answer is "probably not," though there are some guys to keep an eye on. Scheppers will make his first major-league start on opening day after succeeding as a reliever last year. The real question is how well his stuff will translate to the rotation. Pitchers typically see some velocity decline when making the switch. Scheppers blew people away with a 96.3 mph fastball out of the pen, but that may not translate as well if it's coming in a bit slower. On top of that, he relied on his fastball over 80 percent of the time last year. He does have a slider, but he'll need to show a third pitch in order to succeed as a starter. There's some upside here, considering he's already experienced success in the majors, but there's plenty of uncertainty that he can retain his value as a starter.
Perez has received glowing reports from scouts since he signed as a 16-year-old. He has electric stuff, including a 93 mph fastball from the left side, and a devastating changeup. Despite that, Perez hasn't been able to post strong strikeout numbers yet. Perez reportedly added a cutter during the offseason, and there's a chance that helps him pick up a few more strikeouts this year. Though he's been on the prospect radar for a number of years, Perez is just 22 years old, so there's still some time for improvement. He has the most upside of any pitcher currently in the team's rotation, but he has to prove he can put it all together.
Ross is in the same boat as Scheppers. He'll also be making the conversion from reliever to starter. Scheppers' stuff is probably better, but Ross posted a better strikeout and walk rate out of the pen last season. That makes him somewhat interesting, but the issues with the reliever-to-starter conversion are significant. You'll want to wait and see before you buy.
By now, Fantasy owners know what Saunders offers, which is basically innings. And, lately, those innings haven't even been good. The move to a hitter-friendly ballpark basically puts the nail in the coffin.
It's tough to find information on Martinez. He doesn't even appear in the FanGraphs.com player database yet. A cursory glance at his Baseball-Reference page reveals he hasn't pitched above Double-A, and isn't an extreme strikeout or walk guy. The fact that he was an 18th round draft pick suggests he was never really a guy with a high ceiling. There are exceptions, of course, and perhaps Martinez is one of them, but he warrants zero Fantasy consideration until he proves he can hack it in the majors.
Both Scheppers and Perez have some mixed league value, but mainly as late-round flyers. Ross warrants a wait and see approach, while Saunders and Martinez shouldn't come anywhere near sniffing your roster. Come back soon, Yu Darvish.