The key for the Texas Rangers in 2011, their best season in franchise history, wasn’t the second 30-30 season of Ian Kinsler’s career or the big September by then-newcomer Adrian Beltre.

Neftali Feliz posted 32 saves, and Mike Adams was a critical bullpen addition at the trade deadline. Neither of those was the biggest development, either.

Those Rangers, the ones who just missed out on winning the World Series, were buoyed by the remarkable health of their starting rotation in a season in which none of the five spent one day on the disabled list.

As a result, the five starters won a combined 73 games, and the Rangers were forced to lean on a spot starter only five times.

All good things, though, come to an end, and three starters went on the disabled list last year. Two of them are still hurt, and now Opening Day starter Matt Harrison is on the DL with a sore back.

So, for a second straight season the Rangers have had to dip into their pitching depth at Triple A to help keep them afloat.

The key for the 2013 Rangers, at least entering their 10th game of a new season and as it was in 2012, appears to be how well their reserve pitchers will perform.

“We made it through 2011 really only needing five starters, but that’s rare,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “You’re probably going to need seven or eight guys make a meaningful number of starts in an average year.

“The most important thing is to keep our current group healthy. It’s a long year. That’s why we erred on the cautious side with Matt.”