ARLINGTON — The starting pitching bar has been set fairly high recently by the Rangers starters, which is more than OK with Tanner Scheppers.“Why shouldn’t it be?” Scheppers said. “We’ve taken pride in our pitching the past few years and I don’t see why it should be any different.” Over the past nine starts, Rangers starters have combined for a 2.29 ERA (17 earned runs over 66 2/3 innings) and Scheppers is looking to continue that trend Thursday against Seattle.Scheppers has shown flashes in his first three starts. He held Boston to two runs over five innings on April 7, and then went seven innings Saturday against Houston. But he struggled in the fourth inning against Houston, giving up all five of his runs in that frame. “I just want to put it all together,” Scheppers said. “Take all the positives I’ve had in my outings and put it into one outing.” Added manager Ron Washington: “It’s a learning experience for him. You expect an inning to get away, but you hope if it gets away, it’s two runs and not five.” Scheppers went on to say that he doesn’t feel like he has to keep proving himself worthy of staying in the rotation even though more established starters could be getting closer to returning. “I have faith in my ability,” he said. “If I pitch the way I think I can pitch, I’ll be fine.” Arencibia scufflingJ.P. Arencibia knows his offensive numbers aren’t pretty right now. The 28-year-old catcher is 1 for his last 22, and has an .083 average with no home runs and one RBI. But he feels it’s just a matter of time before those begin turning around.“The numbers are crap right now, but there’s been a lot of balls I’ve hit hard right at people and there’s been good catches made on me,” Arencibia said. “All you can do is keep swinging. Numbers are skewed sometimes, it’s a small sample size, all that stuff … I just try to work hard and I just want to win.”Arencibia is also going through a transition from an everyday catcher the three seasons with the Blue Jays into a part-time role with the Rangers. He and Robinson Chirinos have been getting two days on, two days off, as Washington juggles playing time. Arencibia acknowledged not being in the lineup as consistently is an adjustment, but said: “There are no excuses. You’ve just got to work and find out what you’ve got to do to make it work. That’s all it is.” Chirinos also has struggled, going into Wednesday’s game with a .174 average. But he did drive in the game-winning run against Houston on Friday.Still, the Rangers have had the least offensive production from their catchers in the big leagues. They’ve combined to hit .122 through the first 15 games. Washington, though, said he isn’t too concerned.“I want them to get my pitchers through innings,” Washington said. “Whatever I get offensively, I get. I got confidence in them.” Briefly • Left-hander Joe Saunders, on the DL with a bruised left ankle, experienced more soreness in his left ankle during a bullpen session Wednesday. An MRI showed Saunders had a bone bruise, not a break, and he will be given a couple days rest before getting back on a mound. • Right-hander Daniel McCutchen, who was designated for assignment Monday, cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple A Round Rock. • The Rangers signed Scott Cousins to a minor league contract Wednesday with intentions of converting the outfielder into a left-handed pitcher.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison