The Texas Rangers will go to a six-man rotation, but don’t get any ideas.
It’s only for the next week, manager Ron Washington said, to give Colby Lewis a few extra days’ rest and to keep Derek Holland, who made his first start of 2014 on Tuesday, on a normal five-day rotation.
After Nick Tepesch starts Wednesday in the series finale with the Royals, Scott Baker will take his third consecutive turn in the rotation on Thursday against Seattle. Robbie Ross, who threw five no-hit innings Saturday before exiting the game because of a pitch count, starts on Friday. Nick Martinez and Holland will pitch on Saturday and Sunday before an off day on Monday.
Lewis, who is tied with Yu Darvish for the team lead with 144 1/3 innings pitched, is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Angels.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said the main reason for the change was getting guys some rest.
“It gives us another chance to look at Robbie,” Maddux said. “He merited another opportunity from his last game. With the expansion of rosters it gives us more bullpen [depth]. We’re able to put Baker back in there and give him another opportunity. He’s really succeeded his last two times out. He’s earned it.”
Tepesch returns home
Tepesch grew up Blue Springs, Mo., about 15 minutes east down Interstate 70 from Kauffman Stadium.
The right-hander has a home there and got to sleep in his own bed Monday night. He played several games at the stadium, in high school and at the University of Missouri, but has never pitched here. He’ll get that chance on Wednesday against the Royals.
“It’s definitely nice for my family and friends. They don’t have to go too far to see me play,” said Tepesch, who has left 12 tickets for friends and family.
Left-handed pitcher Michael Kirkman, who was recalled from Triple A Round Rock on Monday, never knew if this day would come. After he struggled with the Rangers early this season, he was sent to the minors and continued to struggle. Eventually, he said, “I just had to quit and start over.”
He did that by lowering his arm slot back to where he had it when he was last throwing as well as he is now, in 2010, he said.
“For whatever reason I was getting higher and higher,” he said. “[I had to] fight with that for a few weeks and got it eventually to stick in my head. A lot of it’s mental.”
He allowed 20 earned runs in his first 13 innings for Round Rock, but since May 21, Kirkman has been a new man. He allowed only seven in runs in his last 43 1/3 innings.
“Over the past three months I just feel more comfortable,” said Kirkman, who will assume a specialist role out of the bullpen for the Rangers against left-handed hitters. “Both the sinker and slider [have been good against left-handers]. I’m putting them where I want them for the most part and getting the ball on the ground when they make contact.”
The specialist role is fine with him.
“Oh, yeah. I’m just happy to be here,” he said. “I never knew if I’d make it back after the first couple of months of the season.”