Thursday newsletter time: Is Dane Dunning pitching himself into Rangers’ Opening Day plans?
(AP photo/Charlie Riedel)
The Rangers and Royals managed to squeeze in nine innings Wednesday at Surprise Stadium, but all backfield plans were scratched and the regulars who were scheduled to play following the Tuesday off day were held out as a precaution after some more rain fell in the area.
It’s been a rainy and cool camp, and Arizona native Sam Huff said that there’s been a shift in the spring weather pattern in which strong storms coming from California are no longer pushed north. He’s not a fan.
Right-hander Dane Dunning, though, took his normal turn on the mound and allowed one hit in five shutout innings. He is pitching well enough to force the Rangers to consider him for a role in the bullpen.
There was one multi-inning role available to open the season, but now there are two. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi won’t be ready to start the season as he deals with arm fatigue, manager Bruce Bochy said, and the Rangers are going to need another with Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi short on innings to start the season.
Dunning is pitching well enough to fill one of those roles. So is Cole Ragans. A third candidate is Glenn Otto, whose results suggest he isn’t pitching well.
But it’s spring training, and pitchers are working on things. Otto didn’t have a great spring last year but was pretty good when called upon early in the regular season.
Don’t sleep on Spencer Howard, who has some fans on the coaching staff.
That group also represents the Rangers’ first line of defense in case of an injury in the rotation. Every contending team has rotation depth, and the Rangers need to preserve it.
They also want their 13 best pitchers, and right now Dunning and Ragans are among that group.
Decisions, decisions, and only 14 days to go until Opening Day.
Headed back to camp
Canada lost Wednesday to Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, meaning that left-hander Mitch Bratt will make his next start in Rangers minor-league camp.
He’s the prospect who struggled Monday night in a start against Team USA. He badly wanted another chance to pitch in the WBC, but he will have to wait four more years.
The thinking is that Bratt ends up at High A Hickory after a terrific 2022 at Low A Down East. Bratt is a premium strike thrower, which made his outing Monday all the more telling that he wasn’t himself, and should find success at the next level.
The Hickory rotation should be pretty good. Ryan Garcia, Emliano Teodo, Winston Santos and Larson Kindreich could be there. Dane Acker could be, too, though the Rangers could push him to Double A Frisco based on his spring.
And what about Kumar Rocker?
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