Tanner Scheppers‘ didn’t get bombed in his second start Monday night in Boston, so that’s progress. Scheppers was still saddled with the loss, leaving the game trailing 2-1 in what eventually became a 5-1 loss. Still, he was hardly dominant. Scheppers surrendered 9 hits in just five innings of work and although he avoided giving up the big hits and gaudy run totals that he did on Opening Day, he has still yet to prove that he is starter material.
Scheppers will benefit from Joe Saunders poor start in Tampa and subsequent injury, because with Colby Lewis ready to rejoin the rotation, Scheppers would have been a prime candidate to return to the ‘pen. Saunders’ injury buys him some more time to make his case.
With the Rangers trailing by one in the bottom of the eight, Rosin started his second inning of work. He promptly gave up a line drive single, a walk, and a bunt single that turned into a run thanks to a Prince Fielder throwing error. Out goes Rosin, in comes Tolleson. At that point, the Rangers desperately needed Tolleson to shut the door to give the struggling Ranger bats a chance in the ninth.
No luck. A line drive single and RBI groundout later, it’s 5-1 Red Sox and the Ranger ninth is a moot point. A game that was still winnable turned into a blow out that quickly, and when you’re struggling at the plate like the Rangers have been, a four run deficit with one at bat to go is a blow out.
For all the hand wringing done in the spring about the Ranger starting rotation, the bullpen has been bona fide disaster. Check out these ERAs.
Breaking spring training, I was fully in support of Scheppers and Robbie Ross being in the rotation, in part because I felt that Texas could find bullpen arms easier than starters. I stand corrected. Scheppers is badly needed in the back end.
At this point, it is uncertain how Scheppers would handle a demotion to the ‘pen, but at least he has shown that he can thrive there in the past. He hasn’t handled the starter’s role well, and with all Texas starters not named Yu struggling to make it to, much less through, the sixth inning, the bullpen’s importance can’t be understated.
If the Rangers had a better rotation and a more consistent offense, the team might be able to suffer the growing pains of Scheppers as a fourth or fifth starter in the hopes that he would grow into something more; but with the team struggling as they are, they simply can’t afford it anymore.
Hopefully, Lewis will provide a spark and Matt Harrison will continue to improve and both Ross and Scheppers can return to the pen. With those two, Jason Frasor, who has been untouchable and Tolleson, who has been decent, the pen gets a lot better very quickly. The Rangers simply are not good enough right now to experiment with guys playing out of their best position.
Maybe the day will come for Tanner Scheppers to take his spot as a regular starter. Right now is not that time.