The Texas Rangers arrived in Surprise needing to fill in a blank.
Yu Darvish. Cole Hamels. Derek Holland. Colby Lewis. Martin Perez. And then … ?
While Darvish continues his slow Spring toward a late May return to the rotation, the answer to who will be the Rangers’ 5th starter goes unanswered. But after five weeks in the desert, there is no clear front-runner.
It seemed like Chi Chi Gonzalez’ job to lose, but he certainly hasn’t won it. Sunday Nick Martinez fanned on a start to get the inside track in a 5-1 loss to the Angels. Nick Tepesch has been decent, as have Jeremy Guthrie and A.J. Griffin.
None, however, have won the job.
“We haven’t seen any separation,” said manager Jeff Banister.
Translation: What we have here is a big coagulation of mediocrity behind the best five pitchers.
Guthrie has a consistent – if not spectacular – Major League track record. Griffin has shown flashes, but injuries have kept him out of baseball the last two seasons. The Rangers would like to hand the ball to Gonzalez, the darling of last year’s camp. But he was bludgeoned by the Diamondbacks on Saturday and hasn’t struck out a single batter in 8.1 innings over three starts.
Though overall this could be one of the team’s best pitching staffs ever, the temporary mystery over the season’s initial 5th starter is becoming perplexing.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.