Texas Rangers: Has Tanner Scheppers Earned A Bullpen Spot?
By Andrew Webb
The Rangers have an interesting decision to make before Opening Day on whether or not to include relief pitcher Tanner Scheppers on the roster. He’s had an up and down career in Texas, but his spring performance suggests he’s ready to take on a bigger role.
30-year-old Tanner Scheppers is fighting alongside plenty of other pitchers for a role in the Opening Day bullpen for the Texas Rangers. This spring Scheppers has pitched in five games with 1.42 ERA. Has he done enough to earn a role in Arlington this summer?
In an interview with T.R. Sullivan, Scheppers had this to say about Spring Training, “I think Spring Training is about building up and getting ready for the year,” Scheppers said. “It’s getting the body aligned for a long stretch. Things have been feeling good, so I’m definitely excited for the season.”
The lack of command has crushed Scheppers throughout his five years in the Major Leagues. Rangers manager Jeff Banister has no patience for pitchers that continue to issue walks. Command issues and injuries continue to pile up for Scheppers, but regardless he still has a shot.
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The biggest deciding factor will be whether or not the Rangers go with an eight-man or seven-man bullpen. The team already has five right-handed options that are basically locked in. Then Alex Claudio who is the lone left-handed option out of the bullpen.
The Rangers could decide to bring another lefty along, and that would put the bullpen at seven. Plenty of the bullpen pitchers like Tony Barnette and Matt Bush can go multiple innings. That means they can stretch out innings, and doesn’t force the Rangers to bring another arm on the roster.
Scheppers could be stretched out possibly into a long relief role. His command problems make it hard to believe he could pitch multiple innings at the Major League level. Regardless Scheppers is staying strong and fighting for his spot in the bullpen.
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“I’ve just got to go out and be the pitcher I am,” Scheppers said. “Pound the strike zone and let everything else fall into place. My job is to pitch. That’s it.”