With Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland all facing injuries and rehab of varied extent, the Texas Rangers starting rotation is a huge question mark entering the 2014 season. The Rangers hope the question mark is very short term with guys like Harrison and Lewis likely to start the season in the minors with hope of not being there for long.
So in the meantime, the Rangers will have to set a rotation with only two sure things in Yu Darvish and Martin Perez and then a whole lot of questions. Two of those questions, for some reason, are still relievers Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers, who both played key roles in the Rangers' bullpen in 2013, when the unit was arguably the greatest strength of the club.
With just more than two weeks to go before Opening Day on March 31, those two are still vying for spots in the rotation, no matter how often we try to say they shouldn't even be in the discussion. On Friday night when the Rangers take on the Cincinnati Reds, those two will get what probably will be their last chance to make a case for rotation duty.
Both are scheduled to work four innings with one last chance to impress manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux. Ross will get the start, and Scheppers is scheduled to follow him.
In their last outings, neither made it through their scheduled three innings. Scheppers went 2 2/3 innings and Ross did the same, as both fell victim to high pitch counts. Scheppers said he knows he needs to do differently on Friday if he wants to be a starter instead of an elite setup man.
“I feel like I haven’t shown them what I can do,” Scheppers told The Dallas Morning News. “I have to have consistently low pitch-count innings. I want to go four innings plus and keep the pitch count down. It’s very important to show I can get through as many innings as possible.”