Here’s something you don’t see very often: Because of injuries knocking Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland out of the mix the Rangers have turned to Tanner Scheppers as their Opening Day starter and it will also be the 27-year-old right-hander’s first career start in the majors.
Scheppers was an occasional starter in the minors, but has worked exclusively as a reliever for the Rangers and was fantastic out of the bullpen last season with a 1.88 ERA and 59/24 K/BB ratio in 77 innings. Texas decided to shift Schepper’s role around following all the injuries to the rotation and Darvish’s recent neck problems caused them to scramble even further for Opening Day.
Last time Scheppers started a regular season game was 2011 at Triple-A and he has a grand total of 12 professional starts since being drafted 44th overall in 2009. Meanwhile, the Rangers have also decided that Alexi Ogando–who started 29 games in 2011 and 18 games last season–will begin this year in the bullpen.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Nationals are expected to consider Cal Ripken Jr. for their managerial vacancy. Ripken, of course, was recently reported to have been considered by the club the last time the job was open.
This could be a courtesy. And if you’re a Nats fan, you have to hope it is, right? Because the single biggest argument in favor of Matt Williams when he was hired was that he was a top player in his day, wasn’t too far removed from his playing career and could be a good clubhouse guy who understood what made major leaguers tick. His lack of experience was brushed off. All of which would be the same thing for Ripken, except he doesn’t even have the coaching experience Williams had and is even farther removed from his playing days.
I know he’s famous and everything, but if the Nationals’ 2015 season is evidence of anything, perhaps it should be evidence that sometimes it’s useful to have a manager who has actually, you know, made a pitching change once in his professional life.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired Williams and his entire coaching staff following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.