Fifth Starter Picture Gets Clearer

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The Rangers are only going to need their fifth starter a few times in April and hopefully about the same amount in May before Yu Darvish returns from Tommy John surgery and pushes everyone else back to the point where Colby Lewis is one of the league's best No. 5 starters.

But they're going to need one, and with a week left before the season begins, it's still not decided.

The Rangers took a big step in the process on Saturday when they optioned Chi Chi Gonzalez to Triple-A Round Rock to let him work regularly as a starter. That's the right decision on Gonzalez, who still has a lot to improve upon to be a consistent big-league starter, including developing an out pitch.

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That leaves A.J. Griffin, who hasn't pitched in the bigs in two season after Tommy John surgery of his own but was a more than serviceable pitcher for the A's before that elbow injury. Griffin's only real competition for the No. 5 job is veteran Jeremy Guthrie, who's been decent this spring, but is older and has a lower upside than Griffin. Guthrie must be placed on the Rangers' roster by today or he can opt for free agency and probably would.

The only other options are Phil Klein and Cesar Ramos, and neither of them appear to be serious candidates.

So with all that said, go ahead and plan on Griffin getting the nod in what could be one of the better offseason, under-the-radar steals of the winter if he can get back to what he was with Oakland.

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