Ben Rowen is hoping to become the next submarine pitcher to carve out a niche in the big leagues. And he’s gotten off to a promising start.
The 25-year-old has thrown 5 1/3 scoreless innings over three appearances since making his big-league debut earlier this month. His most impressive outing came Friday, when he saved the Texas Rangers’ bullpen with 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
“I was aggressive with the fastball and able to keep them off-balance by changing speeds and moving in and out,” said Rowen, who grew up nearby pitching at Palos Verdes [Calif.] High School.
“It’s been fun to be up here so far, and I’ve just got to continue to do what got me here.”
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Being a multi-inning option out of the bullpen could make Rowen more valuable, and manager Ron Washington liked what he saw Friday.
Washington said they were planning to use a different reliever for the eighth, but decided to stick with Rowen, who had kept his pitch count low.
“At least we know we’ve got that option with him,” Washington said. “I’m not saying that’s going to be his total role, but it’s an option.”
Washington has seen submarine pitchers succeed in the big leagues. He was a coach with the A’s when Chad Bradford pitched four seasons with them from 2001-04.
Despite their similar deliveries, Washington wasn’t ready to compare Rowen to Bradford yet. Washington said Bradford was a harder thrower from underneath and had more pitches in his repertoire.
“Rowen has a good ways to go, but he’s very deceptive,” Washington said.
The Tigers announced their probable starters for their series against the Rangers beginning Tuesday, and it doesn’t include former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander or reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.
Verlander pitched Saturday and Scherzer is scheduled to start Sunday, leaving Drew Smyly, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello in line to go in the three-game series at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers will counter with Colby Lewis, Joe Saunders and Nick Martinez. Nick Tepesch and Yu Darvish are scheduled to start the first two games against Minnesota on Friday and Saturday, and that is the expected order until the All-Star break.
It would call for Darvish to start the Sunday before the All-Star Game. If Darvish is selected to the AL squad, the Rangers will let him decide whether he can pitch in the July 15 game.
“If Yu thinks he can pitch an inning, we’ll give him the OK to pitch,” Washington said.
Much attention has been placed on the offensive struggles of Shin-Soo Choo. The outfielder who signed a seven-year, $130 million contract this off-season went into Saturday batting .138 this month and .178 in his last 40 games.
But Washington reiterated that he believes it’s only a matter of time before Choo gets going and had him back in the three-hole Saturday.
“He has a track record, and before it’s all over with, he’ll figure out what the issue is,” Washington said.
• Michael Choice is tied for the team lead with eight home runs, and his last four hits have been deep balls. He’s batting only .196, though, but Washington said: “He’s being productive right now the best way he can, and that’s by hitting the ball out of the ballpark. He’s getting some big hits. That’s why he’s going to continue to play.”
• Leonys Martin, known as a free swinger, drew a season-high two walks Friday. Washington liked seeing that from his leadoff man, but said the team isn’t forcing Martin to change his approach. “You have to let him learn that for himself,” he said. “Because then we might lose Martin and we might get Martin-ette.”