Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, home to the Texas Rangers, has always been known as a hitter's paradise.
Some of it has to do with all the offensive firepower the team has amassed, but there is also the extreme summer heat which helps baseballs fly out of the park at a crazy rate and what seems like a wind tunnel helping anything hit toward right center.
Which makes it all the more interesting and out of the ordinary that this year's Rangers team is leading the American League in fewest runs per game (3.59) and is top five in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, strikeout-to-walk ratio and team shutouts.
For fantasy owners, the obvious question is, can it last? Or should they "sell" on their Texas pitchers while the player values are at their highest point?
Let's look at the key pitchers and analyze each situation:
Yu Darvish - Darvish began his professional baseball career in Japan and after seven stellar seasons with Nippon he arrived on the American shores in 2012 and continued to pitch at an All-Star level (16-9, 3.90 ERA, 1.280 WHIP). He's been even better in his first eight starts of 2013, going 6-1 with a 2.73 ERA, 0.911 WHIP and a league-leading 80 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. Although his ERA and WHIP are higher in Arlington than on the road, he's a stunning 13-2 in front of a home crowd. A fourth-round selection on draft day, Darvish has pitched like a first-rounder and we expect that to continue throughout the season.
Derek Holland - Holland has managed to win 28 games over the past two seasons, but statistically his other numbers have never been particularly impressive. A career 4.56 ERA, 1.325 WHIP and a strikeout rate of 7.4/9 IP has never made him a sought-after fantasy property. This year, he's started out 3-2 with an eye- catching 2.93 ERA and 1.066 WHIP. Fantasy owners should consider his performance to date a mirage and not get caught up in the hype. His home ERA of 1.57 is unsustainable and his strikeout rate continues to hover below eight.
Alexi Ogando - Ogando is the Rangers' "do-everything" guy. When they need a starter, he starts; when they need a long reliever, he's there; and he even saved three games last season when called upon. Injuries have forced him into a starting role this season and he's posted a 3-2 record with a solid 3.09 ERA. He's another low strikeout pitcher who has already walked more batters in 43 2/3 innings than he did all of last season. Other than accumulating wins, we think Ogando is more valuable to the Rangers than to fantasy owners.
Nick Tepesch - Tepesch is a 24-year-old rookie who has been forced into the starting rotation because of injuries to Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis. He's 3-3 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.263 WHIP. His minor league career is nondescript and we haven't seen anything to get excited about. Leave him as a free agent.
Justin Grimm - Grimm looked special in April, posting a 2-0 record with a stunning 1.59 ERA and 1.176 WHIP, but May has been a disaster. An 0-3 record, 7.02 ERA and 1.800 WHIP is likely to get him a one-way trip to Triple-A Round Rock. If you claimed him off the waiver wire in April, it's now time to cut him loose.
Matt Harrison - A second back surgery in April leaves Harrison's 2013 availability in doubt. Too bad as he's been a decent low-end-of-the-rotation fantasy option who posted 32 wins over the past two seasons with a 3.34 ERA.
Neftali Feliz - Feliz is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is on schedule to return sometime late this season. The 2010 AL Rookie of the Year earned 72 saves over a two-year period, but when the team tried to make him a starter he injured his elbow. At this point, Feliz has no fantasy value.
Colby Lewis - Lewis (March elbow surgery) was recently sent out on a rehab assignment, but was experiencing discomfort in his right triceps and may have his late May return delayed. He's been the definition of a .500 pitcher during his three seasons with the Rangers (44-42) with a 3.93 ERA and 1.175 WHIP.
Joe Nathan - Nathan has continued to be a top closer despite the move from pitching-friendly Minnesota to Arlington. He saved 37 games last season and has 12 this season without a blown save. His 2.72 ERA, 1.084 WHIP and strikeout- per-inning average are all top-notch numbers, which should continue throughout the remainder of the season.