Mar 14, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Michael Kirkman (44) pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the fourth inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
As we discussed some the last two days, to me the guy that deserves that shot the most is 23-year-old Justin Grimm. I got a chance to see Grimm pitch Sunday and he certainly made a strong case to me (I took my family out to the RoughRiders game and let me throw out a free plug for the Frisco atmosphere. If you've got young kids that have trouble sitting still, it's a good place to go as a warmup before taking them to a Rangers game). Grimm, the club's fifth-round choice in the 2010 draft, showed solid command and a fastball that was hitting 93 mph on the park's radar gun. He has a curve and changeup and wasn't afraid to throw his off-speed stuff in a variety of different counts.
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Why not give Grimm a taste of the big leagues by throwing him in there against the Houston Astros? There's always a risk of having a rocky start that hurts his confidence, but in talking with Grimm a month ago, I got the sense that he had the type of personality and inner confidence that he'd be fine even if things didn't go well.
I've mentioned Grimm as someone possibly in the mix as well, and I've had folks on Twitter ask if Barret Loux could get a call up. But the problem with calling up either Grimm or Loux for a spot start, even if they are ready for the majors (and I'm not in a position to weigh in on whether they are or not), is one of logistics.
The Rangers' 40 man roster is currently full. They just designated John Gaub for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster for Tanner Scheppers. To make room for Grimm or Loux, the Rangers would have to move someone else off the 40 man roster to create a 40 man roster space. Then, Grimm or Loux would be sent back to the minors, meaning that the Rangers would be burning that player's first minor league option just so he could make a spot start. Neither Grimm nor Loux would need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the 2013 season normally, so if you don't call them up this year, their first option wouldn't be burned until the 2014 season. If you call them up now, they would be on their last option come 2014, and you would also be filling a 40 man roster spot this offseason with a player you wouldn't otherwise have to protect.
In addition, the Rangers are already going to have to make a tough decision when Roy Oswalt is ready to be added to the 40 man roster. Matt West is supposedly going to be ready to pitch in the minors in a few weeks, but you could move him to the 60 day disabled list for now and then send him on a 30 day rehab assignment when he's ready to pitch, buying you some time before you have to make another move. Or you could designate for assignment another player on the 40 man roster, with Mark Hamburger or Luis Martinez being the most likely candidates. Adding Grimm for one start now when you've got to clear a spot for Oswalt in the near future just makes the roster situation that much more complicated.
If Grimm were already on the 40 man roster, like Martin Perez and Neil Ramirez, this would just be an issue of if he's ready and the best choice for the start. But given the other issues involved here, bringing Grimm or Loux up creates a whole new set of problems.