Tanner Scheppers impresses in final bid for rotation spot

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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.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.