After switching him back and forth between the bullpen and rotation for three seasons the Rangers are now committed to sticking with Alexi Ogando as a full-time starter.
And he’s happy about that, telling T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com: “This is what I want. For me, starting is easier. You have four days off and every fifth day you pitch. I like the routine of the starter.”
Ogando made the All-Star team as a starter in 2011 and has a 3.49 ERA in 30 career starts, but he also has a 2.53 ERA in 103 career relief appearances.
Sullivan notes that one big difference for Ogando is that he relied almost exclusively on his fastball-slider combination as a reliever, using his changeup just 11 times in 1,040 pitches. As a starter in 2011 he threw his changeup about four times more often, which still isn’t much, but he’s apparently planning to work it into his repertoire more this season.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.