Remember when the Texas Rangers signed Joakim Soria to a contract this winter with the understanding he wouldn't be ready until sometime early in the summer and he'd hopefully take over as the set-up man behind Joe Nathan and maybe even eventually become the Rangers' closer?
Well, all of that is still a possibility, but Tanner Scheppers has made the Rangers decision a bit harder once Soria gets back and into a groove, and that's a good thing.
Yes, Soria is a former all-star closer and has all kinds of skins on the wall and Scheppers in his first season as a full-time reliever in the bigs, but so far, so very, very good for the guy who's finally realizing his potential.
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Scheppers has thrown 17 innings in 15 games this season and has put up a minuscule 0.53 ERA over that time, pitching well in high-leverage situations and getting all kinds of huge outs as the Rangers have jumped out to first place in the AL West with a four-game lead over second-place Oakland, the largest division lead in baseball.
Scheppers has long been built up in the Rangers organization for his big arm, but his big arm often threw the ball very hard and very straight — a recipe for disaster against big-league hitters. Now, he's moving the ball and has worked his way into the conversation of being the Rangers' long-term set-up man and possibly a closer down the road.
At just 26 years old, Scheppers is under club control through 2019, which means Nathan will be long gone at age 38 now and Scheppers could be working his way into heir apparent status. It's too early to say that, but the future looks bright for young Mr. Scheppers.