Add right-hander Kyle Dowdy to the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day roster and put three pitchers’ roster chances on life support.
One will survive to see the Chicago Cubs at 3:05 p.m. Thursday at Globe Life Park. Any of the three could end up at Triple A Nashville, and one could end up opening the season with another big-league club.
Who is Dowdy? Good question.
He comes to the Rangers on a waiver claim after the Rule 5 pick failed to make the New York Mets’ roster. Dowdy must stay on the Rangers’ active roster all season or risk being lost to waivers or being returned to the team that lost him, the Cleveland Indians.
The Rangers like the improvements he showed late last season and late this spring, and his ability to pitch multiple innings gives the Rangers a long man to replace Jason Hammel after he retired suddenly last week.
“We have had good reports on Dowdy this spring,” general manager Jon Daniels. “An interesting back story. Really took a big step middle of last year, continued to get better over the course of the spring. His last two outings in particular found what we are hoping is a level if consistency, and intriguing guy we want to bring in here and get our arms around.“
Of note is that Dowdy, 26, has enjoyed a major velocity jump the past eight months. His fastball is routinely sitting in the mid-90s, and his curveball and slider have also improved. Dowdy, who played in college at Houston and has undergone Tommy John surgery, has adapted to a new way of pitching with his uptick in stuff.
The ability to provide length will likely result in righty Adrian Sampson being assigned to Nashville to pitch in the Sounds’ rotation. Connor Sadzeck, another righty, is out of options, and his inconsistency this spring could force the Rangers to designate him for assignment.
That leaves Kyle Bird, who had never pitched above Triple A but could serve as a second left-hander in the bullpen along with Jeffrey Springs. Bird, part of the Jurickson Profar trade, can also cover multiple innings.
Daniels said that the Rangers are taking eight relievers into the season after being reassured that Joey Gallo (right groin) is healthy enough to be the backup center fielder. They optioned outfielder Zack Granite to Nashville after the game Tuesday.