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.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.