Last Call from the Desert…Tanner Scheppers and the Bullpen
“If we get Mitch Moreland back to the way he was his rookie year, spraying the ball around the ballpark, he’s going to do some damage.”
Manager Ron Washington on Moreland’s opposite field home run on Saturday afternoon.
Tanner Scheppers pitched two scoreless innings on Saturday afternoon in the Rangers 6-2 victory over the Reds and may be charging his way into the Opening Day bullpen. Scheppers allowed three runs against the Brewers on March 12 but has pitched five scoreless innings over his last four appearances. He has allowed four hits and not walked a batter.
“He has thrown the ball extremely well the last four times out,” Washington said.
So here is the way the Rangers bullpen sets up right now:
Closer Joe Nathan – If anything happens to him, everything else is irrelevant.
RHP Jason Frasor – He is the Rangers eighth-inning setup reliever. He is more suited to the seventh but right now he is in the eighth inning.
LHP Michael Kirkman – Having a tremendous spring to the point where the Rangers are toying with the idea of using him in the rotation.
LHP Robbie Ross – Two strong innings in relief against the Reds on Saturday
RHP Tanner Scheppers – The Rangers desperately want a right-handed power reliever in a setup role and he is the hardest thrower in camp.
RHP Josh Lindblom – He has not had a great camp but his velocity is back up and he has had success in the Major Leagues the past two years. There seems to be too much agonizing over a guy who should be good enough for what the Rangers need.
RHP Derek Lowe – The Rangers are still evaluating him but they see him as a middle reliever and possible spot starter at this point. It’s still not out of the question he could be in the rotation.
LHP Nate Robertson and Joe Ortiz – Both have had great springs but their chances of making the team are still up in the air. Right now it depends on….
A.) If either Kirkman or Lowe go to the rotation.
B.) The Rangers prefer a third left-handed reliever over Lindblom.
RHP Joakim Soria – On April 3, it will be one year since he’s had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. The Rangers want him in the eighth inning but it’s not going to happen until mid-May at the earliest.
RHP Cory Burns – He is still in camp and may be pushing Lindblom for a spot. Not much has been said about him lately and he does have options.
RHP Coty Woods – The Rule 5 Draft pick from the Rockies is probably not going to make the team but the Rangers may try to work out a trade with Colorado to keep him. The kid has a tough makeup and can pitch. He is worth trying to keep.
RHP Johan Yan – Another side-arming righthander. The Rangers want somebody with velocity like Scheppers and Lindblom.
RHP Yoshinori Tateyama – Two days after releasing him, the Rangers sign him back to a Minor League contract. Go figure.