Yes, it's just the Houston Astros — the team that is on pace to win a near-record low of games in a season this year. But regardless of the opponent on Sunday, Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nick Tepesch needed a big day at the office for not only a three-game sweep but for his own confidence and the club's confidence in him, as well.
Tepesch, the rookie who won the No. 5 starter job out of spring training after frontrunner Martin Perez fractured his forearm during a Cactus League game. After finishing second in AL Rookie of the Month voting for April behind his rotation-mate Justin Grimm, Tepesch had struggled in May, giving up 10 runs in his previous 10 2/3 innings heading into Sunday's start in Houston.
Yes, Houston is awful all-around, but Tepesch did what he could do against any opponent and the results were good as he tossed six innings while giving up one run and just one walk for the groundball pitcher.
"You take away the positives and you get ready for the next one," Tepesch told ESPN Dallas. "You go back and look at what made me successful today and that was a good sinker and commanding my fastball. Pitching, that's where it all starts, commanding your fastball. Everything plays off of that."
Tepesch is now 3-3 with a 4.03 ERA — not bad at all for a rookie No. 5 starter. With Martin Perez activated from the DL (more on that later) and Colby Lewis' return set for sometime soon despite a minor setback, the spots in the rotation will once again be up for grabs, and Tepesch's Sunday outing went a long way to him keeping a spot when reinforcements get healthy.