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Perez Establishing Himself As Starter

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Perez Establishing Himself As Starter

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Alexi Ogando #41 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Houston Astros in the first inning at Minute Maid Park on April 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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With Colby Lewis nearing a return to the Texas Rangers' starting pitching rotation, apparently after one more rehab start, and Matt Harrison set to follow suit later this month, the Rangers' rotation could be taking on a new look — even since the addition of Matt Garza.

Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Garza are locked in as starters, that much is for certain. Lewis will be a starter when he returns. How effective Lewis will be is still up for debate, but he'll get a chance. He's not rehabbing to be a reliever.

That leaves one spot in the five-man rotation for two guys — Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez — and that doesn't even take Harrison's return into consideration.

Perez made an even stronger case for himself with Monday night's outing against the Los Angeles Angels, putting the Rangers within two games of the Oakland A's for first place in the AL West and vaulting them into a wild-card spot.

The 22-year-old lefty showed his continued maturation by tossing 6 1/3 innings with a career-high seven strikeouts and a career-high 111 pitches. He pitched out of jams, including inning-ending strikeouts of Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton in consecutive innings.

He looked like a more-than-viable starting pitcher who could definitely contribute as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, depending on how Lewis looks when he gets back.

"There's a lot of upside there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "When he starts learning the league better, he's got enough pitches to be effective. He does have a changeup and he can throw it at any time in any count for strikes."

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