Texas Rangers: A.J. Griffin May Force Tough Decision

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Apr 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher A.J. Griffin (64) celebrates his teams win against the New York Yankees at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers won 10-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher A.J. Griffin (64) celebrates his teams win against the New York Yankees at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers won 10-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports /
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By turning in the best start of the young Texas Rangers season on Tuesday, A.J. Griffin dispatched the Yankees and moved to a perfect 3-0 on the season.

Early in the season, A.J. Griffin and Cole Hamels are neck-and-neck for the title of best starter in the Texas Rangers rotation. Such a development is something no one could have predicted a mere month ago. Griffin was supposed to be a placeholder, a fill in, who could easily be dispatched to the minor leagues when Yu Darvish returns. But with a perfect 3-0 start to the season, including a brilliant 8 inning performance against the Yankees on Tuesday. Griffin has proved to be so much more, and cutting him from the rotation may not be as easy as originally anticipated.

Unfortunately, even if Griffin continues to perform at the same high level for the next month or so as we continue to await the return of Darvish. He will still likely find himself to be the odd man out of the Texas Rangers rotation. Griffin is burdened by the ability to be sent to the minor leagues, and as many players in a similar position has found out, that often results in being forced onto the ever-rotating carousel between AAA and the big leagues. Griffin will likely suffer the same fate, relegated to serve the very necessary albeit un-glamourous role of AAA depth.

Barring a Darvish setback or another injury within the rotation, the only way I can see Griffin being able to maintain his rotation slot beyond the next month, would be if one of either Martin Perez or Derek Holland were to moved to the pen. While not impossible, such a move certainly isn’t likely.

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The more likely alternative to demoting Griffin to AAA may be moving him to the bullpen to serve as a long man and spot starter. Whether or not the Rangers would consider him in that role, or would rather he get regular starts every 5 days in Round Rock is not clear.

One thing we have learned by watching the Texas Rangers slog through injuries the last couple of seasons, is that 5 starters is never enough. Thus Griffin’s services will doubtless be required at some point even after Darvish returns.

The loss of A.J. Griffin’s rotation spot may be all but decided, but that certainly doesn’t mean that he needs to make the decision to send him out an easy one. So what do you think will be the fate of A.J. Griffin when Yu Darvish returns? Would you like to see him keep a spot in the rotation over one of the other current members? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.

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