Last season, Nick Tepesch opened the year in the Texas Rangers' starting rotation, due mostly to a spring injury to favorite Martin Perez.
This year, Tepesch hopes to repeat the feat after a strong start to the 2013 season that quickly tailed off after the first month or so and ended with him battling injury and being shuffled back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen.
On Monday, Tepesch got off to a strong start in his quest to begin the season in the Rangers' rotation, which is currently full of holes and questions with Derek Holland's knee surgery and Matt Harrison's overall question mark as he looks to return from making just two starts in 2013 and dealing with just as many back surgeries.
Tepesch finished the 2013 season with a 4-6 record and a 4.84 ERA in 17 starts with two relief appearances. He was 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA in April of last year before seeing his ERA increase in every ensuing month before missing most of July and all of August while battling injury.
On Monday, he was supposed to be limited to two innings and 35 pitches, but instead pushed his outing to three innings on just 34 pitches while allowing two hits and nothing else. Tepesch also worked his changeup and got good results, overall, from it.
"I thought it was good," Tepesch told ESPN Dallas. "I buried one and kind of got lazy on one, but other than that it was a good pitch. I was in the zone with it and being in the zone with it is a big part of it -- just being able to command it in the zone. It’s not going to be effective if it’s not in the zone."
Other than Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and yes, even Alexi Ogando, unfortunately, the Rangers have two rotation spots open for the taking until Holland and Harrison return, whenever that is. Tepesch appears to be the favorite, along with possibly Colby Lewis, to figure in. It'd be ideal if the Rangers could push Ogando back to the bullpen, but their current situation might make that difficult.