When Justin Grimm takes the hill on Friday in Detroit for his final start before the all-star break next week, he just might be pitching for his starting-rotation life. And judging by Ross Wolf's performance in a spot start on Thursday night, that life might already be gone.
Wolf made his second spot start of the season in the Rangers' 3-1 loss to Baltimore and pitched great, giving the Rangers six solid innings in just more than 70 pitches — an awfully efficient outing — and surrended two runs, both on solo homers in the early innings.
The Rangers lost the game, but Wolf might have earned a tentative spot in the Rangers' starting rotation with Grimm struggling terribly over the last month and the team still awaiting some pitching reinforcements like Alexi Ogando and later Colby Lewis.
Ogando is expected back after the all-star break, and Yu Darvish is expected to start the series opener against the Yankees on July 22 after missing Thursday's start with a sore uppper back, which gave Wolf the chance a night after Josh Lindblom failed in his spot start for the injured Nick Tepesch.
“He picked us up huge tonight,” Ian Kinsler told ESPN Dallas. “I think they were only planning on going four [innings]. He made it through six and didn’t really even use a lot of pitches. That was big for us and big for our bullpen.”
When Darvish returns after the break, and assuming Ogando does the same, the Rangers' rotation will have Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Ogando and one of either Grimm or Wolf. When Tepesch returns from the DL, which should also be soon, the Rangers will have a decision to make. None of this takes into account a possible trade acquisition of a starting pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline.
Do the Rangers want to give Wolf an extended shot in the rotation? If Ogando has a setback or struggles, it's very likely. Otherwise, they might want to leave him in the long-relief role, where he's excelled this season.
Either way, it was a job well-done for Wolf, who went six seasons between big-league appearances and is quite the feel-good story.