Texas Rangers rumors: Chi Chi Gonzalez had a strong outing yesterday against the Reds, giving up just 1 hit in 5 shutout innings, but it looks like it may not have been enough to keep him in the race for the 5th starter job. T.R. Sullivan tweets that it "looks like" Chi Chi is heading down to Round Rock, with Stefan Stevenson tweeting that Gonzalez had a long meeting with pitching coach Doug Brocail. Evan Grant tweets that Nick Tepesch could also be sent down.
The consensus was that the Rangers were hoping that Gonzalez, their first round pick from 2013 who got some time in the big leagues in 2015, would seize the fifth starter job this spring. However, Chi Chi hasn't been great, and has continued to have issues inducing swings and misses and giving hitters different looks, particularly with different velocities. The fifth starter job is, it is hoped, just a temporary gig, with Yu Darvish due back potentially as soon as mid-May. It wouldn't be surprising if the Rangers opted to send Chi Chi down from the outset, with specific instructions to follow and goals to accomplish in Round Rock.
This would seemingly leave three candidates for the final rotation spot -- Nick Martinez, A.J. Griffin, and Jeremy Guthrie. Griffin also pitched yesterday and had success...he's had a nice camp, and while the word early on was that Griffin would likely be sent to AAA to continue working on regaining strength after missing the past two seasons, he may have shown enough to claim a rotation spot. Guthrie, meanwhile, hasn't looked great, but as a veteran who can opt out in two days if he isn't on the major league roster, the Rangers may choose to keep him and plug him in the rotation for the time being.
Regardless, it sounds like cuts are coming, and we will likely know more later this afternoon.
UPDATE -- Right as I hit publish on this post, John Blake tweeted that Gonzalez had been optioned to AAA and Tepesch had been re-assigned to the minor league camp. Tepesch, who the Rangers non-tendered this winter and then re-signed to a minor league deal, has had an awful spring, and his getting sent down is not surprising.
UPDATE II -- Catcher/1B Brett Nicholas has also been assigned to the minor league camp. He was talked about at various points during camp at possibly sticking as a backup, but with Michael McKenry, Bobby Wilson and Chris Giminez in place, Nicholas ended up getting bumped.