The Texas Rangers were dealt a big blow on Friday, as left-handed starter Derek Holland could be out until midseason recovering from arthroscopic surgery that took place on Tuesday, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. Holland reportedly suffered a left knee injury during a fall at his personal residence. The injury could significantly effect the Rangers' rotation outlook in 2013.
Holland is coming off a dominant season, in which the then-26-year-old emerged as one of the better left-handed pitchers in baseball. In 213 innings, Holland posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 120 ERA+, and a 4.8 WAR, the latter of which was the 7th best mark in the AL. Holland also posted a career-best 2.95 K/BB ratio, largely fueled by the 10th best strikeout rate (8.0 K/9) in the AL.
At 27, Holland was expected to help anchor the Rangers' rotation alongside Yu Darvish in 2014, as Texas looks to return to the postseason after narrowly missing out in 2013. Even without Holland, the Rangers' still maintain a fairly solid front four led by the ever-impressive Darvish, and followed by Alexi Ogando, sophomore Martin Perez, and Matt Harrison, who missed all but two games in 2013 due to injury, but has been a top-of-the-rotation type starter when healthy.
With Holland out, the fifth rotation spot now becomes the question mark. The most likely scenario is that the club goes with an in-house option to fill the role. The Rangers have numerous big-league ready arms that could step in immediately, though none has the upside of Holland. Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Michael Kirman, Tanner Scheppers, and Nick Tepesch should be among the names considered to fill Holland's shoes for the first few months of the season.
If the Rangers decide to go outside the organization for help, they are unlikely to pursue one of the bigger name free agent starters such as Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. Someone such as Jason Hammel, Bronson Arroyo, or Paul Maholm on a short-term deal could be an ideal fit.