The Rangers have announced that Matt Harrison will be the team's Opening Day starter, and Robbie Ross will be in the bullpen to start the season
The Rangers have announced that Matt Harrison will start on Opening Day, March 31, in Houston against the Astros. Yu Darvish will be the team's game two starter.
The Rangers have also announced that Robbie Ross, who was vying for the team's #5 starter spot, will start the season in the bullpen.
Harrison is a mildly surprising pick for the Opening Day starter, as Darvish is considered to be the team's best starting pitcher. Harrison arguably had a better season in 2012, however.
The decision to put Ross in the bullpen is not all that surprisingly, as he did not do enough to separate himself from Nick Tepesch, who is also competing for the #5 starter's job, and the bullpen looks to be something of a weakness that Ross's presence could help shore up.
There are now four pitchers who appear to be locks in the bullpen -- Ross, Joe Nathan, Jason Frasor, and Michael Kirkman. Derek Lowe is expected to make the team in a swingman role, which would leave two additional slots for what would likely be righthanded relievers. Lefties Joe Ortiz and Nate Robertson appear unlikely to make the team, with Ross heading back to the pen, although the Rangers could opt to take three lefthanders in the bullpen, with Ortiz being the most likely to claim a job.
Absent a trade for Rick Porcello or some other starting pitcher, Nick Tepesch appears to be the likely candidate to be the team's fifth starter. Randy Wells is still technically in the mix, and some have suggested Lowe as an option, although Ron Washington has been adamant that Lowe isn't being considered for a spot in the rotation.