Tanner Scheppers pitched well Friday afternoon, allowing two runs in six innings of work in the Rangers’ 7-5 victory over the Brewers. He started off in hot water, as the Brewers scored two runs with two doubles and a single, but Scheppers induced an inning-ending double play and never looked back. He struck out six and didn’t issue a walk.
Scheppers was one of baseball’s best set-up men last season, posting a 1.88 ERA in 76 2/3 innings. Now he’s attempting to slot into the back of the Rangers’ injury-ravaged starting rotation. Friday afternoon’s start might have sealed the deal. He now has a 3.07 ERA in 14 2/3 Cactus League innings along with 14 strikeouts and four walks. His competition is left-hander Robbie Ross.
Adam J. Morris of SB Nation’s Rangers blog Lone Star ball thinks Scheppers will break camp with the rotation spot in hand, as will Ross, with Matt Harrison (back) and Colby Lewis (elbow and hip) starting the season on the disabled list. The Rangers haven’t given any official word on what they’re doing yet, but they have plenty of bullpen depth and not so much in the rotation, so they can afford to have Scheppers swap roles.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.