Nick Tepesch pitched, and pitched well, for AAA Round Rock last night. Tepesch went 5 innings, throwing 65 pitches, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and a hit batter, striking out 6 and not allowing a run.
And that isn't out of the ordinary for Tepesch this year...he has allowed opponents a .207/.258/.264 slash line on the year, and has a 1.59 ERA on the season in 39.2 innings. He had one bad outing against Omaha, and in his other five starts, has allowed a total of 1 run in 33 innings.
Here's his game logs, via B-R:
In addition, Tepesch pitched yesterday, which means his normal rotation schedule puts him on track to pitch again on Tuesday...which is when Robbie Ross is due to start again.
Which leads me to wonder...should the Rangers consider replacing Ross in the rotation with Tepesch?
Let me be clear...this is not a criticism of Robbie Ross. He's exceeded expectations in the rotation this year...he has a 3.86 ERA in 32.2 innings, with a 3.89 FIP. He does have a negative bWAR, due to allowing a ton of unearned runs that don't show up in his ERA, and he's had a couple of bad outings in his last two appearances (although in both of those games, he was victimized by awful defense, as well), but overall, Ross has pitched well enough to stay in the rotation.
But there are other factors in play here. One is that, after pitching 65 innings in 2012 and 62.1 innings in 2013, Ross has already pitched 32.2 innings in 2014. Its one thing to have a significant jump in innings for someone like C.J. Wilson or Alexi Ogando, or even Tanner Scheppers, when they are doing so in their late 20s. Ross doesn't turn 25 until the middle of the season, however, and is still at an age where a sudden jump of innings is more problematic.
Secondly, Derek Holland is expected back in another month or so. Now, plans can change, Holland can suffer a setback, other members of the rotation can get hurt or struggle...but at this point, if everyone is healthy, Ross is likely to be the odd man out in another four weeks or so when Holland returns to the rotation anyway.
Third is the state of the bullpen, and in particular, the lefthanded relievers. Neal Cotts has struggled. Pedro Figueroa, a pleasant surprise from spring training, is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. Joe Ortiz is on the 60 day d.l. Right now, Aaron Poreda is the second lefty in the pen. And even the righthanders aren't exactly getting you excited...Alexi Ogando is struggling, Tanner Scheppers is on a throwing program, and Shawn Tolleson is Shawn Tolleson. The bullpen has a 4.36 ERA on the season so far, and has blown some key leads late in games.
So if Ross is going to return to the bullpen anyway, and the bullpen needs help, and there's a starting pitcher going great guns in AAA right now, doesn't it make a certain amount of sense to make the switch now? I think its not unreasonable to think Tepesch can perform at a level similar to Ross for the next several games in the rotation, while Ross would improve the bullpen, and making the move now makes it more likely Ross is not out of gas at the end of the season.
I have no idea if the Rangers are considering this, or even if they'd go with Tepesch in the rotation ahead of Nick Martinez, who out-pitched Tepesch in spring training, has made two starts in the majors this year already, and is in the pen as a long man right now. But I think its something at least worth considering, and keeping an eye on...