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What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

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On May 18, the Rangers suffered a series sweep at the hands of the Athletics, dropping to 22-19. Since then, the Rangers have won 80 percent — 80 percent! — of their games. They’re 24-6 in their last 30 games, and they’re currently riding a seven-game winning streak. As a result, the Rangers enter play Tuesday 9.5 games ahead of the Mariners in first place in the AL West. Only the Cubs with 47 wins have achieved victory more often than the Rangers (46).

The Rangers have done this with DH Prince Fielder putting up a .583 OPS, Yu Darvish only being healthy enough to make three starts, Mitch Moreland having a down year, and Derek Holland pitching poorly. There hasn’t been any one particular player who has been shouldering most of the workload; rather, it’s been players like Jurickson Profar coming up and performing well (.873 OPS), Ian Desmond overcoming a slow start (.867 OPS), Colby Lewis having a career year (2.81 ERA), and Cole Hamels doing what he was brought to Arlington to do (2.88 ERA).

Lewis will toe the slab at 8:05 PM EDT on Tuesday night as the Rangers host Anthony DeSclafani and the Reds. Lewis flirted with a perfect game his last time out.

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 7:05 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Wilfredo Boscan), 7:05 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 7:07 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Bud Norris) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @ Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ New York Mets (Bartolo Colon), 7:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander), 7:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 7:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel), 8:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 8:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray), 10:05 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.