After grasping the No. 5 starter's job in spring training for the Texas Rangers, rookie pitcher Nick Tepesch looked the part early in the season sporting an effective sinker and a tendency to induce groundball outs that had him looking pretty valuable through May.
But in his past few starts, Tepesch has struggled, including Monday night's start against Oakland, an eventual 8-7 Texas win that snapped a six-game losing skid, but it wasn't thanks to Tepesch.
If you remember, Tepesch got the job in spring training mainly because the frontrunner, top pitching prospect Martin Perez, broke his forearm after being hit by a line drive. Now, after Tepesch failed to get out of the fourth inning and allowing six runs after his team had taken a 3-0 lead, a rare accomplishment recently for the Rangers.
After Monday's game, Rangers manager Ron Washington said Tepesch would get his next turn in the rotation, which should come Saturday in St. Louis, but you have to wonder if he might be on the verge of getting replaced by the guy who had his job midway through Cactus League play.
Perez has owned Triple-A hitters since a spot start on May 27 against the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and took a loss. Since his return to Round Rock, he's 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA, capped by a six-inning, shutout performance against a good hitting Triple-A team in Oklahoma City on Monday night, while Tepesch was stuggling in Arlington.
On the season, now, Tepesch is 3-6 with a 4.84 ERA. Over his last three starts, he's 0-2 with a 9.77 ERA and has allowed an opponents' batting average of .306 over that time. It might be time for Tepesch to hit the minors, back where he was supposed to be all along.