Injuries forced the Rangers to make some last-minute adjustments to their rotation and they decided to give Tanner Scheppers the Opening Day start despite the fact that he’d never started a big-league game before.
It went poorly, as have his other starts, and now Scheppers may not be long for the rotation. Manager Ron Washington declined to feed into that speculation, but Scheppers has a 9.82 ERA while allowing a league-high 20 runs in 18 innings, serving up four homers. Last season, as a full-time reliever, he had a 1.88 ERA in 77 innings and his average fastball was 2.5 miles per hour faster in the bullpen.
Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas guesses that the Rangers will give Scheppers one more start to prove himself, as which point replacing him with Double-A right-hander Nick Martinez could be an option. Left-hander Matt Harrison is also nearly ready to come off the disabled list. And then the question would become whether the brief stint in the rotation will have a lingering negative impact on Scheppers’ work as a reliever.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.