Texas Rangers starting pitcher Andrew Cashner is throwing a bullpen today, while his biceps tendinitis has him likely to start the 2017 season on the disabled list, he appears on track to be in the major league rotation a couple of weeks into the season.
And interestingly, while pitching coach Doug Brocail has been pretty adamant about wanting to stay with a regular five man rotation at the start of the season, even though off days would allow them to skip the fifth starter spot for the first couple of weeks, Jeff Banister brought using a four man rotation to start the year up as a possibility today, per Evan Grant.
The Rangers’ hope is that, a couple of months into the season, they will have a five man rotation of Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross. However, Ross is not expected to be ready until mid-May, at the earliest, and with Cashner also expected to start the year on the d.l., the Rangers are sifting through a collection of arms that includes Mike Hauschild, Dillon Gee, Nick Martinez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and A.J. Griffin in their hunt for replacements until that pair is ready.
The willingness to shift to a four man rotation early on would seem to be in no small part a by-product of the failure of Gonzalez and Martinez, the Rangers’ pair of young internal options, to seize a rotation spot. Hauschild has had a strong camp, and as a Rule 5 pick, has to either stay on the 25 man roster or be put on waivers and then offered back to the Astros, from whence he came. Gee has an opt-out if he isn’t on the major league roster, while Griffin can be optioned.
I have a hard time seeing the Rangers sending Griffin down and going with a four man rotation in the meantime, and at this point, it seems like Hauschild and Griffin would be the favorites for the final two rotation spots, though one could go to the bullpen as a long man if they did opt for a four man rotation early on.
My guess is that the Rangers stick with a five man rotation initially, but while I called going with a four man rotation to start the year very unlikely a few days ago, I have to take the “very” away at this point, I think, in light of Banister’s comments.