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Thursday newsletter time: Cody Bradford makes case to stay in Rangers’ rotation

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

 

ARLINGTON — The American League is coming for Cody Bradford, who through three starts has been the Rangers’ second best starting pitcher.

Teams are going to make adjustments against the left-hander, who has been thriving with a 90-mph fastball, a new-and-improved curveball and his trademark changeup. He commands all three, which was one of the keys to his success in the Rangers’ 6-2 victory Tuesday night over the A’s.

Bradford allowed one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven, and is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA.

Another key to his success is how well he prepares. So while scouts across the game dig into Bradford, he’ll be digging into opposing hitters.

What he’s doing isn’t an accident. What he’s doing is giving the Rangers a difficult decision in a couple weeks.

Michael Lorenzen made his third and likely final rehab start Tuesday at Triple A Round Rock, allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits, walked five and struck out six. Just a hunch, but he might return to the Rangers with an opinion about automated balls and strikes.

The key number for him was 89, the number of pitches he threw.

Up next for him is, in all likelihood, a start in the majors. The Rangers are in the middle of playing on 17 straight days, and the plan is to add him to the rotation to help the other five starters get an extra day between starts. Call it a six-man rotation if you’d like.

It’ll be a temporary arrangement. A starter will have to go to the bullpen. Bradford was expected to draw the short straw. Now, though, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney or Lorenzen look more likely be relegated to relief duty than Bradford.

The Rangers are trying to win another World Series. If that means someone’s feelings get hurt, so be it.

Gray day

Gray will be making his third start of the season this afternoon in the finale against the A’s, and the right-hander needs to be better than he has been the first two times out.

He lasted only 3 2/3 innings last week against the Astros, but the Rangers received stellar bullpen work and late offense in a 7-2 victory. The biggest issue for Gray has been a lack of command, which has led to some big early pitch counts.

He also said that he has been dealing with a bit of dead arm, which isn’t unusual for a pitcher coming out of spring training. He was planning on more long-toss between starts in an effort to get his arm stretched out more.

As was mentioned above, Gray might be competing to stay in the rotation. He is making $14 million, so the Rangers likely do see a ton of value sticking him in the bullpen, but he was also a very effective reliever in the World Series.

I’d be curious to see how he would fare as a closer with his big fastball and sharp slider, a two-pitch mix that would play up in shorter stints. If he is going to the bullpen, closer is a role that would maximize his value.

You don’t see a lot of long relievers making $14 million.

ICYMI …

Rangers fans have been dialed in early on as the Rangers begin their defense of their World Series crown, some a little too much. It’s a long, long season. Those who live and die with each game are going to be piles of mush by the All-Star break. Pace yourselves. Save your angst. Understand that all teams lose games they should win and win games they should lose. It happens … a lot. Rangers Today will cover them all. Subscribe here. Links to our latest content is below, in case you missed it.

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Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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