Rangers choose Nick Tepesch as fifth starter

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Injuries to Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, and Martin Perez have forced the Rangers to dig deeper into their pitching depth than they’d like and they’ve picked Nick Tepesch as their fifth starter.

Tepesch is 24 years old and has yet to pitch above Double-A. And in fact he wasn’t even all that good at Double-A, making 14 starts there with a 4.28 ERA, 68/26 K/BB ratio, and 97 hits allowed in 90 innings.

Robbie Ross and Michael Kirkman were also in the running for the spot, but the Rangers decided they preferred them both in the bullpen and opted not to make a run at free agent Kyle Lohse. Instead they’ll hope that Tepesch can hold his own until Lewis or Perez is ready in a couple months.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.