Four starting pitchers have a spot in the Texas Rangers’ rotation to open the 2016 season, and they’ve had the spots since well before anyone showed up to the Surprise Recreation Campus.
They haven’t had to worry about making the team. They have been allowed to work on certain pitches and build their pitch counts while being entrusted that they will have everything clicking by Opening Day.
The results don’t matter. This is spring training, after all. Some starters get the luxury of working in minor league games, where results really don’t matter.
Colby Lewis was the latest Rangers rotation member to get in his work Tuesday at the sun- and wind-swept Peoria Sports Complex. San Diego’s watered-down lineup produced nine runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Rangers’ projected No. 3 starter, and the Padres rolled, 17-5.
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That follows starts by Derek Holland and Martin Perez in which they showed a knack for falling behind hitters. Cole Hamels has allowed at least one homer in all four of his starts, three of them against minor leaguers.
You evaluate health and you evaluate workload, and they’ve all hit those marks. They’ve been able to get outs and work on some of their pitches.
Manager Jeff Banister on the four pitchers locked into the rotation
And no one seems to worry, at least not publicly.
“You evaluate health and you evaluate workload, and they’ve all hit those marks,” manager Jeff Banister said. “They’ve been able to get outs and work on some of their pitches. The other part of that is how do that respond to some adverse situations when we make some miscues behind them. Can they come back and get the outs that are necessary?”
The good news for Lewis was that he threw 77 pitches. By the time he reaches Globe Life Park, following one more start before camp breaks, he should be able to push his pitch count past 100.
Some other good things happened for Lewis, who said that he had better fastball command and repeated his delivery more. As he headed down Bell Road back toward Surprise, he wasn’t the least bit concerned even though his spring ERA is 10.24.
“I’m not really concerned with results or anything like that. I never really have been,” said Lewis, who will start again Sunday and April 1. “I felt good. I felt like a couple time I was getting out of it what I needed to do with commanding the fastball. That’s what’s spring training is for.
“I don’t think I’m missing anything. As long as my body feels good and I’m able to get my pitch count up, I’m happy.”
Banister said that San Diego jumped Lewis early in counts. One of the two homers he allowed was wind-aided, and the Rangers didn’t help with some dicey plays in the field.
“Colby has had some of these spring training games,” Banister said. “I don’t get concerned over Colby. If it was some other pitcher, I might be concerned.”
10.24 Colby Lewis’ ERA this spring after allowing nine runs in 4 2/3 innings Tuesday
Holland and Perez might fall into that category, though they would likely object.
Holland also didn’t have many complaints about his start Friday at the Alamodome. He allowed two homers, both to the short porch in right field that would have been outs in a big league ballpark, but felt good about his mechanics and his off-speed pitches despite a high pitch count in 3 1/3 innings.
Perez tossed three scoreless innings before Colorado scored four times (three earned) in his final 1 1/3 innings. He acknowledged that he fell behind too many batters, but otherwise was pleased with his performance.
One of those two left-handers will be the Rangers’ No. 2 starter behind Hamels.
“You don’t want to start the season with too many walks and working from behind,” Banister said. “We can be better in the sense of how we manage the pitch count and be more efficient with the strikes.”
Pitchers, though, work on those pitches in spring training, many times coming out of their comfort zones to throw pitches in situations they normally wouldn’t. Banister still wants to see execution pitch to pitch.
If a pitcher wanted to throw a fastball down and in, Banister wants to see him actually get it there.
As camp has stretched past the one-month mark for pitchers, that has gotten better.
“We’ve still a range to go yet,” Banister said.
But this is spring training. The results don’t matter. No one seems to worry, at least not publicly.