It’s been a long road for 32-year-old pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx, but he will make his first career start against the Rays on Wednesday. What should you expect from him, and can he become a reliable MLB starter?
Last week the Texas Rangers lost A.J. Griffin for at least ten days, and were forced to find a starter quickly. The team elected to start rookie Austin Bibens-Dirkx on Wednesday instead of calling up a player from the minors.
The 32-year-old pitcher spent 12 years in the minors before being called up to the Rangers this season. He’s been solid out of the bullpen, in four appearances he’s struck out nine and given up just five earned runs.
It will not be an easy task for Bibens-Dirkx as he’s going up against the Rays ace Chris Archer. This season Archer is 4-3, but he’s pitched much better than his record indicates. In 11 starts, Archer has a 3.61 ERA with 88 strikeouts, and just six home runs allowed.
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The Rangers are a swing friendly team, and we could see the strikeouts pile up tonight. The key to the game will be getting Archer’s pitch count up and forcing the Rays to use their bullpen early. Archer goes over 100 pitches in just about every start, so this will be a tough challenge for the Rangers hitters.
Over his career Bibens-Dirkx has started plenty of times. This is not something that is outside of his wheelhouse, but let’s not expect him to be an ace. Tonight is a spot start for him, and he’s likely better suited as a bullpen pitcher.
Let’s not worry too much about whether Bibens-Dirkx gets the win or not. If he can throw strikes and keep the ball in the park then we should consider it a solid start. We’ll see what he has to offer tonight in Arlington.