Texas Rangers: Who Will Win The Battle For Fifth Starter?
By Andrew Webb
The Texas Rangers continue to fight for a playoff spot down the stretch of September. The team is currently undecided on a fifth starter, and their decision needs to happen quickly.
On Friday the Texas Rangers open up a series with the Angels, and their fifth spot in the rotation is on the mound. The bad news is the Rangers have not yet decided who their fifth starter even is yet.
According to T.R. Sullivan, manager Jeff Banister says it will likely come down to A.J. Griffin, Nick Martinez, and rookie Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Currently Griffin is the starter, but is 0-3 with a 6.88 ERA in his last four starts.
It’s unlikely the Rangers are willing to give Tyson Ross another shot in the rotation. He was 3-3 with a 7.04 ERA in 10 starts before he was demoted to the bullpen. Ross is still continuing to struggle to find his groove in the bullpen.
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The Rangers have been waiting for Martinez to become a reliable option, but that hasn’t panned out yet. This season Martinez is 3-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 20 games (15 starts) with Texas. He’s pitched just about as well as Griffin, and that’s not a compliment.
That means 32-year-old rookie Austin Bibens-Dirkx is the best option at the moment. He’s been reliable this season going 5-2 with a 4.67 ERA in 20 games (six starts) with the Rangers. It’s clear that Bibens-Dirkx won’t blow away hitters with his fastball.
Most pitchers in the MLB throw harder on average than Bibens-Dirkx. That doesn’t mean he can’t pitch in a big league rotation. He’s walked just 18 batters in 61.2 innings of work this season. His command is his biggest weapon, and he could blend in well into the starting rotation.
The Rangers don’t have a lot of options, and Bibens-Dirkx is clearly the best one out of the three. They should just give him a shot because the organization already knows how using Griffin and Martinez will pan out.