In a couple of bits of news that are maybe kind of related but not necessarily, the Detroit Tigers have announced that Rick Porcello will be the team's fifth starter, while Jon Daniels has apparently said that he expects the team's #5 starter to come from within the organization.
Porcello was expected to be the odd man out in the Tigers' rotation this year, and there has been much talk about the Rangers scouting Porcello and having an interest in trading for him. Porcello is just 24, and is a groundball pitcher, which fits well with the Rangers' strong infield defense.
But instead, Porcello will be starting for Detroit, and Drew Smyly will either be in the bullpen for the Tigers or in AAA.
And since the Rangers aren't acquiring Porcello, signing Kyle Lohse (who is now a Brewer), or, it sounds like, acquiring anyone else, that leaves us with Nick Tepesch and Michael Kirkman battling it out for the #5 starter job, with Derek Lowe hanging around in the wings as an emergency fallback if the two of them, for whatever reason, don't end up with the job.
Tepesch has been the surprise of the spring, going from a guy who didn't even have a picture in the photo database (Yonata Ortega had an official photo available, for Pete's sake) to a guy who, a few days ago, was seemingly close to nailing down a spot in the Opening Day rotation.
But Tepesch had a rough outing the last time out, and Michael Kirkman, who has had opportunities to win a starting job in the past, and failed so often that the Rangers seemingly had given up on him being anything other than a reliever, has turned heads with his stellar spring.
And thus Kirkman, who wasn't even included among a group that included Tepesch, Cody Buckel, and Randy Wells as possible fifth starter candidates when spring training began, is going to start the Rangers' major league game tomorrow, with Tepesch pitching in the minor league game.
You can view this as Kirkman suddenly being the favorite for the job. Or you can view it as the Rangers feeling that they've seen Tepesch enough this spring that they have a handle on what he can do, and wanting to see Kirkman going through the lineup a couple of times against major leaguers.
Kirkman moving to the rotation would make it more likely that Joe Ortiz or Nate Robertson would make the team out of spring training. Kirkman and Ortiz are both on the 40 man roster, so the two of them making the Opening Day roster would also alleviate potential 40 man issues...the team will have to clear out roster spots to make room for Derek Lowe and Jeff Baker on the 40 man roster, and if they acquire a utility infielder from outside the organization, rather than going with Leury Garcia, that player would also need a roster spot.
So there's a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous, a lot of strands in ol' Duder's head. I'm guessing we'll know more after tomorrow. And of course, Opening Day is Sunday, so one way or the other, we'll definitely have a decision by then.