Texas Rangers: Starters named for first set of Spring Training games

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 05: Kolby Allard #39 of the Texas Rangers pitches during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 5, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 05: Kolby Allard #39 of the Texas Rangers pitches during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 5, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The Texas Rangers have set their starting pitchers for the first three Spring Training games of the year. What can we watch for from this trio?

With just two days to go until the Texas Rangers first Cactus League game of the year, the club has named the starting pitchers who will get the ball in the three games this weekend. Per TR Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers are set to pitch Kolby Allard against the Royals on Friday, Luke Farrell on Saturday against the Brewers and Joe Palumbo on Sunday against the Mariners. It seems that the first three games of the spring are likely to feature pitchers on the outside looking in at roster spots for Opening Day which could make for interesting watches this weekend. Focusing on the starters, where do they currently stand in the race for an Opening Day roster spot and what are we watching in their first appearances of the spring.

LHP Kolby Allard: Friday vs. Royals (2:05 PM)

Allard will get the start in the Rangers first Cactus League game of the year and likely will have a lot of eyes carefully watching his performance. Allard joined the Rangers part way through last season after being acquired in the trade that sent Chris Martin to the Atlanta Braves. Formerly the Braves top pitching prospect, Allard had been passed up by others in the Braves deep farm system and landing in Texas represented a fresh start for the young lefty.

Once he got to the big leagues, Allard was fairly impressive making nine starts for Texas with a 4-2 record. He finished with a 4.96 ERA in 45.1 innings but his 4.01 FIP impressed as did his 1.1 fWAR. The knock on Allard is going to be his ability to generate strikeouts averaging just 6.55 per nine innings in his short stint with Texas last year. His ceiling is probably that of a mid-rotation starter especially if his fastball velocity can stay near the mid-90’s. If not, he has the craftiness to be a solid late-rotation starter for the long-term. Of the three games named as starters, he seems to have the best shot at locking down a big league rotation role this season considering his development but the Rangers will want to see some increased swing-and-miss from him this spring.

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RHP Luke Farrell: Saturday vs. Brewers (2:05 PM)

Luke Farrell is set to make the start in Game 2 of the spring for the Rangers although he likely will continue as a reliever once the season rolls around. He was claimed off waivers by Texas in January of last season but was hit in the face by a line drive during the spring which put him on the 60-day IL to start the year.

Once healthy, Farrell was activated at the end of August 2019 and made nine appearances for the Rangers, eight of which were in relief. Across 13.1 innings he finished with a 2.70 ERA but a 5.01 FIP and an 8.10 strikeouts per nine rate. The 28-year old will likely be fighting for a relief role with Texas this season in what is looking to be a strong bullpen. He still has one minor league option which may means he ends up missing out on a roster spot come Opening Day.

LHP Joe Palumbo: Sunday vs. Mariners (2:10 PM)

Palumbo joins Allard as one of the players trying to force the issue regarding the Rangers already stacks rotation. The lefty emerged quickly into the limelight of Texas Rangers prospects as a potential rotation member last season before injuries slowed his development. A 30th round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, Palumbo has had a winding road to the big leagues but now sits on the cusp of being a long-term piece for the Rangers.

Last season he made seven appearances, four starts for the Rangers amassing just 16.2 innings. He finished with a 9.18 ERA and 7.95 FIP but did maintain an impressive 11.34 strikeouts per nine rate. Working in the minors in 2019, Palumbo made 16 starts and one relief appearance between the Double-A and Triple-A levels posting a 3.01 ERA. He struck out 108 in 80.2 innings and maintains his status as a legitimate rotation prospect. At this point, it looks likely that Palumbo will start the season with Triple-A Nashville, part of a rotation that looks to be stacked with near Major League talent. Texas now has a stacked big league rotation and the Rangers want to continue Palumbo’s development as a starter.

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