With Cy Young contender Yu Darvish on the shelf to begin the 2014 MLB season, the Texas Rangers have been forced to make a radical move and name Tanner Scheppers as their Opening Day starter.
Evan Grant reports that the team will hand the ball to the 27-year-old Scheppers to start the season, and while the “Opening Day starter” mantra has long been overrated, this is a unique spot for one specific reason.
It will be Scheppers’ first start in the Major Leagues.
Yes, you read that correctly. Scheppers earned a rotation spot coming out of Spring Training after being arguably the team’s best relief pitcher last season (1.88 ERA in 76.2 innings), but the last time he made a start was in the minors in 2011, and he’s been a career bullpen arm as a professional. Scheppers’ success came directly from an increased groundball rate (50.5%) last season, and that should play well as a starter, but it seems crazy that a legitimate World Series contender (which Texas claims to be) would be trotting him out on Opening Day.
Reinforcements are on the way for the Rangers, but until then, things are very interesting on the mound in Arlington.