Scheppers in the rotation, Soria is the closer

The Rangers have announced that Tanner Scheppers has won a spot in the starting rotation, and Joakim Soria is the team's closer

Tanner Scheppers is a starting pitcher and Joakim Soria is a closer, the Texas Rangers have announced today.

Scheppers will join Yu Darvish and Martin Perez in the Opening Day rotation, and Robbie Ross, Tommy Hanson, Colby Lewis and Joe Saunders are fighting for the final two spots in the rotation.

Alexi Ogando will start the season in the bullpen, and Neftali Feliz is currently fighting for a role in the Ranger bullpen -- he has to earn a spot, per Ron Washington.

I wrote last night that I thought Scheppers might have nailed down a rotation spot with his solid six inning effort, and Jon Daniels has spoken about the team's belief that Scheppers can be a top of the rotation caliber starter, making the risk of converting him worthwhile.

Robbie Ross's ceiling as a starter is lower than Scheppers', so while he has pitched well this spring in a starting role, the club may feel the delta between his potential as a starter and his value as a reliever isn't high enough to make it worth changing him out.  Still, with Matt Harrison expected back in April, one of the starting pitchers will only get one or two starts before getting bumped, so Ross could start in the rotation but end up moving back to the pen when Harrison is ready.

From reading what the beat guys have been saying about Colby Lewis, you get a sense the Rangers really want him on the team and in the rotation, with the question simply being whether he's built up the stamina to go 100 pitches come early April.  T.R. Sullivan wrote in the notes that were linked this morning that a scout who saw Colby pitch yesterday said he looked like the Colby Lewis of three years ago, and so I think its just going to be a matter of whether he starts the season in the rotation, or starts the season on the d.l. or in the minors working up to 90-100 pitches per start.

The Rangers seem likely to keep either Saunders or Hanson in the rotation, but not both, and it sounds like Saunders has the inside track on that role of veteran-back-of-the-rotation guy.  It remains to be seen whether the Rangers would keep Hanson on as a long reliever/swingman, or if they'd just cut ties with him.

After Matt Harrison's setback earlier in the spring, it seemed like a lock that Alexi Ogando would be in the rotation, given the lack of other viable options, but Ogando has struggled this spring while others have stepped up.  I also have to wonder if the shaky performance by Feliz this spring has the club feeling they need Ogando in a setup role.

Then there is the closer situation.  I think the Rangers headed into camp hoping Feliz would reclaim his old job, but he's not performed well, and his velocity has been missing, while Soria has looked like the guy who was one of the best relievers in baseball with the Royals before his Tommy John surgery.  Evan Grant writes that Wash's comments today leave open the possibility that Feliz could start the season in the minors, with Wash saying that Feliz has to earn a spot in the bullpen.

So, a pretty significant day today in Surprise.  At this point, given today's news, here how I'd guess the Ranger pitching staff looks to start the season:

Rotation:

Darvish

Perez

Scheppers

Saunders

Lewis

Bullpen:

Soria

Cotts

Ogando

Feliz

Frasor

Ross

Tolleson

Of course, a decision will have to be made once Matt Harrison is ready to return, and one of those rotation members will have to be bumped for Matty Ice.  And I'm not sure that would be.

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