Just as Austin Bibens-Dirkx is beginning to slide into the routine of being in the Texas Rangers’ rotation, his start Friday could end up being his last for an extended stretch.
That assumes, of course, that the Rangers will be fully loaded with the arms they thought in spring training they would have had by mid-May. Cole Hamels returned from the disabled list Monday, Andrew Cashner was reinstated Thursday, and Martin Perez is eligible Monday.
Add in Yu Darvish and Tyson Ross, and the Rangers have their projected best five. That leaves no room for Bibens-Dirkx and Nick Martinez, but it’s conceivable that both could finish the first half with the Rangers.
Beyond that, though, the necessity of having depth in the minors will force a tough decision.
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“When you look at the situation, it’s about the depth, and the No. 1 depth is starting pitching,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Could you keep one or both for a short time? Yes, but once those starters get rolling it would be tough.”
Martinez was available out of the bullpen in the finale against the Cleveland Indians and could fill a key relief role that is missing, the bridge from the fifth inning to the seventh. He could also be used to keep the Rangers from falling behind any further.
But Martinez also could make another start next week if Perez is unable to come off the DL. He has kept his left arm going since slamming his right/non-throwing thumb in a New York hotel door last week, but only in the past few days has he been able to get a glove over heavily braced thumb.
He played catch with a glove that has been altered to allow for more room and support. He also attempted to throw with his left hand and quickly jam it into a glove he was holding his in right hand.
Banister said that Perez won’t come off the DL until he can prove that he can work a glove, field his position and defend himself from liners back to the mound.
“It has progressively gotten better for him every day,” Banister said. “He’s in great spirits. I told I’ll be glad when he’s done hitchhiking.”