Dust has almost settled in Rangers rotation battle

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Kyle McClellan on the disabled list due to a ribcage injury. Martin Perez on the disabled list due to a fractured left forearm. Robbie Ross moved to the bullpen recently. Justin Grimm and Randy Wells sent to Triple-A.

The Rangers have had a lot of moving parts as they attempted to find a suitable candidate for the #5 spot in the rotation. Now, the single red rose can go to one of two finalists: prospect Nick Tepesch and veteran Derek Lowe, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan:

But Washington is still holding off naming Tepesch as the fifth starter. Lowe allows him to do that. Lowe has made three starts for the Rangers and is up to 60 pitches. He could make two more starts — including one in extended spring training after Opening Day — and be up to 90 pitches when the Rangers need a fifth starter on April 9 against the Rays.

The Rangers would rather have Lowe in the bullpen. They are ready to commit to Tepesch as their fifth starter. They just aren’t ready to make the official announcement.

Lowe posted a 5.52 ERA as a starter with the Cleveland Indians, but moved to the bullpen when he was signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees in mid-August. He had significantly more success as a reliever, posting a 3.04 ERA in 23.2 innings. As for Tepesch, he got his first taste of Double-A competition with Frisco last year, posting a 4.28 ERA in 90.1 innings.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.