Texas Rangers

Not a fan of the ‘opener’ tactic in MLB? You won’t like the Rangers’ weekend plans

The Texas Rangers have their pitching rotation set for this weekend’s series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Sort of.

Adrian Sampson is expected to get the majority of the innings on Friday, Ariel Jurado is expected to get the majority of the innings on Saturday and Drew Smyly is scheduled to start on Sunday.

Manager Chris Woodward said the team could use an “opener” on Friday and Saturday to relieve the burden on Sampson and Jurado.

“I don’t want to put the expectation of throwing 90-100 pitches every time,” Woodward said. “It’ll actually be a better way to get them through hopefully five or six [innings].”

The Rangers announced that former closer Jose Leclerc will serve as the opener on Friday, and Jesse Chavez is an option for Saturday. But Chavez’s availability hinges on whether reliever Shawn Kelley (infection) comes off the injured list.

If Kelley doesn’t come off the IL, Woodward would prefer Chavez as an option at the back end of games and Jurado could get the start.

Chavez has been the opener once this season, throwing a scoreless inning Saturday in the Rangers’ 11-4 loss at Houston. That is the only time the Rangers have used an opener this season.

The club used an opener five times last September.

Woodward said Sampson and Jurado would each be on pitch counts in the 70-75 range.

The closer

Chris Martin is the Rangers’ closer. At least for now.

Martin pitched a perfect ninth inning to close out the Rangers’ 6-1 victory over the Royals on Wednesday, and has gained the confidence of Woodward to finish games.

“He’s dialed in,” Woodward said. “It’s amazing how good of command he has.”

Martin has eight shutout innings in his last seven games, including earning his first save of the season on May 8 at Pittsburgh. Woodward described Martin has having “embraced” the closer role.

For Woodward, he’d like to have multiple options to close out games. Martin is the best option for now, but Leclerc and Kelley could fill that role too at some point.

Volquez update

Right-hander Edinson Volquez should know more about his future on Friday when the team returns home, and he has his elbow examined.

Volquez seemed at peace with whatever diagnosis may come. If doctors say he’d need a third Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, Volquez will call it a career.

Volquez has not thrown for six weeks and is on the 60-day injured list with a right elbow sprain.

Miller time

Shelby Miller has struggled in a starting role this season, going 1-3 with a 9.51 ERA over eight starts. He has lost his spot in the rotation, but Woodward said the team still values what he brings to the table.

Maybe a move to the bullpen will bring the best out of him as he continues to work his way back following Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.

“He’s fine. He’s open to whatever,” Woodward said. “He’s still a really good arm.”

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