Moon shot: That’s the best way to start off today’s column! Texas Rangers starting pitcher Tanner Scheppers has given up several of those. Over his 4 starts he’s give up 3-home runs to score 11 runs. That’s right 11 runs! He was the Texas Rangers Opening day pitcher, mainly because Yu Darvish was on the disabled list, and should be one of the better pitchers in the starting rotation. So far he’s been bitten by a big inning in every outing. Don’t think so? Let’s take a look then…
Scheppers game log:
- Phillies @ Rangers
- 6 runs in the 2nd (Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam)
- 93 pitches/ 51 for strikes over 4.0 innings
- 2 strikes outs/ 3 walks
- 7 earned runs
Relive the Jimmy Rollins grand slam
- Rangers @ Red Sox (his best game so far)
- 91 pitches/ 59 for strikes over 5.0 innings
- 3 strikes outs/ 1 walks
- 2 earned runs
- Astros @ Rangers
- 5 runs in the 4th (3-run home run by Robbie Grossman)
- 96 pitches/ 62 for strikes over 4.0 innings
- 6 strikes outs/ 1 walk
- 5 earned runs
- Mariners @ Rangers
11 runs via the homer: There you have it, 11-runs via home runs off of Tanner Scheppers. Last season Tanner Scheppers was one of the best setup men in the bullpen last year. It could easily be argued he was one of the best overall. He had an ERA of 1.88 over 76 games/76.2 innings with a WHIP of 1.070, 59 strikeouts and walked 24. So far as a starter he has an ERA of 9.82 with 20 earned runs (league leading), 13 strikeouts and 8 walks over 4 games/18.1 innings.
Scheppers seems to do quite well once around the lineup, but after that things seem to fall apart. He’s either not getting his pitch location, he’s elevating the ball a bit or he’s simply putting it down the middle. After each game, with the exception of the Red Sox game, Scheppers hasn’t been happy with his outing. Which is very easy to understand. He knows he’s struggling out there and so far Ron Washington is keeping his faith in him. But how much longer can Ron Washington do that? The Rangers were lucky to pick up that win after seeing their 6-0 lead fade away. How long can Washington put Scheppers in a role where he doesn’t look comfortable in?
Pack up and move to the bullpen: At this point it seems like it is time for Tanner Scheppers to pack up and move to the bullpen. He wanted to be a starter, Ron Washington said during the offseason that he would get a chance to make the rotation and he did. It was then his job to prove he could be a starter and stay in that role, which he clearly hasn’t done. Some may say it’s too early to pull him from the starting rotation, but in my opinion he’s had enough. On one side you have to really consider how it will impact Tanner Scheppers. He clearly isn’t either ready for it or able to be a starter. If he continues to be a starter, he’s going to continue to pitch about 100 pitches over 4/5 innings. That’s not healthy baseball. It could lead to something happening to Scheppers. If you consider all of that, then moving him to the bullpen is the logical answer.
Then who: If the Texas Rangers do pull the plug on this experiment who will replace Scheppers? Well it won’t be Alexi Ogando, but the Rangers could recall Nick Martinez back up for a few games. During his one outing as a Rangers he pitched very well. Also, the Rangers do have Joe Saunders and Matt Harrison that are close to returning. Out of the three options, it would seem most likely that Nick Martinez could get a couple of starts until Matt Harrison is ready, which would be around the first of May.
If Tanner Scheppers is still in the rotation, his next start will be Wednesday when the Rangers travel to play the Oakland Athletics.