Tanner Scheppers took the mound on Opening Day for the Texas Rangers, a move directly related to the overall health of the team’s starting rotation heading into the season, but now the right-hander is facing his own injury concern. Scheppers has been placed on the disabled list by the team due to what’s being described as muscle inflammation in his right elbow.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News notes that the team made the announcement early Friday afternoon. Left-hander Aaron Poreda has been recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to take his place on the active roster for the time being. Right-hander Nick Martinez will take Scheppers’ next turn in the rotation, Tuesday at the Oakland Athletics.
Scheppers had established himself as a key piece of the team’s late-game bullpen plans just a year ago. He’d make 76 appearances on the year, totaling 76.2 IP with a 1.88 ERA and 1.070 WHIP. He was dominant as a setup man, but the 27 year old always wanted an opportunity to start. Manager Ron Washington gave him the opportunity to win a spot in the starting rotation in Spring Training and Scheppers was able to do so following injuries to Yu Darvish and others before the season could begin. Having him take the hill on Opening Day was more out of need than design given how stripped the team’s rotation had become.
The results haven’t been there thus far. Scheppers made four starts for the Rangers, pitching a total of 18.1 IP. He’s allowed an American League high 20 earned runs in that stretch (a 9.82 ERA), has been plagued by the home run ball (4 allowed on the season), and has seen his walk rate increase to 3.9 BB/9 (up from his career average of 2.7 BB/9 entering the season).
Scheppers, for better or worse, has appeared out of place in the starting rotation. His struggles had already started to fuel speculation by fans of the team, including David Cash at Nolan Writin’, who have been openly wondering whether the time had come to move him back into the back end of the bullpen where he seems to belong.
Poreda, 27, has thrown relatively well in just a handful of innings out of the bullpen at Round Rock. He, however, is a long way from the top prospect status that he enjoyed prior to the 2009 season when he was a starter in the Chicago White Sox organization. He’d reach the Major Leagues that year (throwing a combined 13.1 IP between the White Sox and San Diego Padres) but various injuries have hindered him since and he spent all of the 2013 season out of baseball altogether before joining the Rangers on a minor league deal this past offseason.
Martinez, 23, pitched well in one start for the Rangers earlier this season and had been presumed to be a candidate for a return to the rotation. He’s been working out of the rotation for Double-A Tulsa since returning to the minor leagues following his MLB Debut.