Nick Tepesch won the fifth spot in the rotation going into 2013 and had a chance to do the same this spring. What happened?
“I had a pretty awful spring,” Tepesch said bluntly. “You can’t expect to make the team pitching that bad.”
Tepesch found himself moving the minor-league clubhouse sooner than expected as he compiled an 11.25 ERA over his first three spring starts.
He’s regrouped, though, and has been the best starter at Triple A Round Rock. That’s why the Rangers will recall Tepesch prior to Wednesday’s game against the Astros.
It remains to be seen if this is simply a spot start for Tepesch with Martin Perez dealing with left elbow inflammation, or perhaps a chance for him to prove himself worthy of staying in the big leagues.
Tepesch, 25, has gone 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA over seven starts with Round Rock this season. As a rookie with the Rangers last year, Tepesch was 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA over 19 games, including 17 starts.
“He’s developed more of a personality on the mound this season,” Round Rock pitching coach Brad Holman said. “He’s pitching with a little more attitude and heart rather than over-thinking and trying to manipulate his way through a game.”
Pitching-wise, Tepesch continues to rely mostly on his sinking fastball to induce groundouts and has been throwing his cutter well. He also has a curveball and is still developing a changeup.
The changeup remains the critical pitch for Tepesch to gain and implement in his game plan. It’s a necessary change-of-speed pitch to keep hitters off-balance, and Tepesch has altered his grip and is getting more and more comfortable with it.
In his 2014 debut, though, Tepesch is simply focused on getting outs rather than throwing his changeup.
“It’s just a matter of commanding my pitches and being able to throw my four pitches for strikes,” Tepesch said.
Tanner Scheppers threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since landing on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation on April 18.
Scheppers felt his 25-30 pitch bullpen session went well, saying he even “let some go.”
“Definitely encouraging to get back on the mound and see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Scheppers said.
Scheppers doesn’t know when he’ll throw again or in what capacity he will be in. He said the team has yet to discuss whether he should be ready to go back in the rotation or the bullpen.
Scheppers, this year’s Opening Day starter who had a 9.82 ERA in four starts, feels he can start and the injury had nothing to do with him making the transition to the rotation, but also knows the quickest route back is in a relief role.
“I’m still waiting for some of those conversations to take place,” Scheppers said. “I’m just excited to be on the mound and headed in the right direction.”