Rangers shut down Tanner Scheppers

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This morning I wrote about how the Rangers had to be considering removing Tanner Scheppers from the rotation given his awful performance through four starts and now they’ve placed him on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com an MRI exam revealed no structural damage, but he’ll be shut down for at least 10 days.

Scheppers’ velocity has been down 2.5 miles per hour compared to last season, but that’s likely due mostly to shifting from the bullpen to the rotation and his average fastball of 93.8 miles per hour is still pretty damn fast.

However, after throwing 77 innings with a 1.88 ERA as a full-time reliever last season Scheppers coughed up 20 runs in 18 innings as a starter this year, which is not what the Rangers had in mind after naming him their Opening Day starter despite zero big-league starts under his belt.

Left-hander Matt Harrison is fairly close to coming off the disabled list to make his season debut, but if the Rangers need a fill-in starter for 1-2 more turns in the rotation Double-A right-hander Nick Martinez could get the nod.

Skaggs Case: Federal Agents have interviewed at least six current or former Angels players

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The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.

There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.

Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.

In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.