The Rangers are going to have a good problem in regards to their 2012 rotation come Spring Training. After the team signs Yu Darvish, which is expected, the Rangers will have six starters to compete for five rotation spots. On Saturday, Nolan Ryan acknowledged the obvious, saying that if and when Darvish signs, somebody in Texas' rotation will have to head to the bullpen.
Right now, the Rangers have Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz slated for the rotation. Feliz is the only one of the five who didn't start last year -- and Feliz hasn't even started a game ever for the Rangers.
Still, it shouldn't be Feliz that heads back to the bullpen.
Feliz has already been told that he will make the transition to starting pitcher this season, and presumably, has been training as such throughout the offseason. Texas and Feliz went through a bit of the same song and dance last spring, but ultimately decided to let Feliz close. There's no sense in going through that again, and Feliz' highest ceiling comes from the rotation and not the bullpen.
Evan Grant points out in his article that the Rangers currently have no lefties in their bullpen, and that Harrison pitched out of the bullpen in 2010 for Texas -- insinuating that Harrison would be the logical piece to move to the bullpen if Darvish signs. Jon Daniels could still re-sign Mike Gonzalez to serve as the club's primary LOOGY in '12, diminishing the need for Harrison in the bullpen.
The answer is somewhat obvious. Alexi Ogando should be the one that moves back to the bullpen if and when Darvish signs. Ogando's second half, thanks in large part to a miserable August, was far worse than his first half: Ogando pitched to the tune of a 2.92 ERA, .213 BAA and 1.01 WHIP in the first half, while posting a 4.48 ERA, .267 BAA and 1.33 WHIP in the second half.
Ogando then shifted back to the bullpen for the playoffs, and pitched effectively in the ALDS and ALCS, but completely ran out of gas in the World Series, walking seven and giving up seven hits in 2.2 innings in the World Series.
Not only would Ogando be better off in the bullpen, but Texas' entire staff would benefit. Ogando holds more value out of the bullpen than Harrison does as a primary or secondary LOOGY type.
Of course, if the Rangers sign both Darvish and Roy Oswalt, then two pitchers are likely headed to the bullpen.