Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers mull rotation options but expect Keuchel, Arihara to pitch again
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — Dane Dunning started Tuesday night against the Houston Astros, which meant that the Rangers had a better chance to win a ballgame than they did Saturday or Sunday.
Dallas Keuchel and Kohei Arihara started those games, weren’t particularly good, and the Rangers surrendered 20 runs to the otherwise low-scoring Detroit Tigers. Alas, that duo is likely to pitch again this weekend at Fenway Park.
For now, the Friday and Saturday starters against the Red Sox are listed as TBA. The Rangers could put Arihara in front of Keuchel, thanks to the Monday off day, but interim manager Tony Beasley said he expects both to pitch.
He and general manager Chris Young were planning to discuss the situation Tuesday, but there isn’t much to discuss. The Rangers don’t have many options.
Kolby Allard pitched well his last time out at Triple A Round Rock. Don’t shoot the messenger. A more likely scenario would be to use an opener ahead of both pitchers to reduce the times they would have to face the top of the Boston order.
Doing that in back-to-back games, though, could strain the bullpen.
The bullpen was fine Tuesday in relief of Dunning, who would have had a much better night had he not had to face Jose Altuve. The second baseman doubled and scored a run in the first, and started the third with a home run in a 4-2 Astros victory.
Dunning allowed three runs in five innings but was down only 3-2 when he exited thanks to homers by Bubba Thompson and Ezequiel Duran. Thompson’s homer, deep into the seats in left-center field, was the first of his career.
The homers came against Framber Valdez, who went eight innings and registered his 22nd straight quality start.
Arihara has one quality start in his MLB career. Keuchel has a mountain of them, but the most recent evidence (8.84 ERA) suggests he won’t have one in him this weekend.
How the rotation shakes out is TBA.
The September roster rules aren’t like they used to be, as only two players can be added to the active roster instead of up to 40.
It’s probably a good thing that teams can’t have 19-man bullpens. But the roster limitations are not ideal for a team that needs to evaluate talent, as the Rangers do.
Rosters expand Thursday. Teams can add one position player and one pitcher, and those players can be optioned back to the minors and are subjected to typical rules for a player on optional assignment.
The Rangers leave for their next road trip after today’s matinee, and Beasley expects to have some extra bodies on the charter to Boston.
Naturally, third baseman Josh Jung would be the preferred position player, though the Rangers have been coy about how much more time they believe he needs in the minors. Sam Huff makes some sense with Jonah Heim showing signs of wearing down and with Meibrys Viloria struggling at the plate. Josh Smith has started hitting (and for power) again after his recent demotion.
Right-hander Yerry Rodriguez, who is on the 40-man roster, could be the pitcher. A.J. Alexy was called up Tuesday as an injury replacement for Josh Sborz (elbow strain).
The Rangers don’t have much representation on the big-league side, though Adolis Garcia was recognized for having the third-best outfield arm in the American League and Marcus Semien was rated as the third-base base runner in the AL.
Thompson, though, was a big winner on the Triple A side. He was named the fastest base runner, the best base runner and the most exciting player in the Pacific Coast League.
Thompson swiped 49 bases in 52 tries before getting promoted Aug. 4. He’s 8 for 8 so far in his major-league career as he gives the Rangers an idea of what he could do in an everyday role in left field.
He is the only player at Round Rock who was recognized, as the Triple A lists named only the players who finished first in the survey. Huff had to be on some ballots as the best power hitter.
Me later this week waiting outside my favorite pizza place back home. Enjoy. See you Thursdsay.
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Jeff Wilson, email@example.com