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Ariel Jurado expected to start Saturday

The Rangers are expected to call up righthander Ariel Jurado for a spot start on Saturday

MLB: Texas Rangers-Media Day Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers are expected to recall Ariel Jurado from AA Frisco to make a spot start for the team on Saturday, per the beat guys. Jurado would be filling in while Cole Hamels continues to deal with a stiff neck that resulted in him being scratched from Thursday’s start.

Jurado is being pressed into duty because he’s on the 40 man roster and would be starting on normal rest. Jurado is repeating AA, and has a 2.57 ERA in six starts for the Roughriders this year, which is a significant improvement over last year’s 4.59 ERA for Frisco. However, Jurado has struck out just 4.63 batters per 9 this year, and has his worst ground ball rate of his career -- 47.7% in 2018, after having a ground ball rate above 50% in every other season.

Jurado probably isn’t major league ready at this point, but with the Rangers needing a starter, their options were limited. Yohander Mendez pitched on the 15th, so he would be pitching on short rest if he were called up for today’s game, and would need someone to be put on the disabled list to be eligible to be recalled, since he was sent down less than 10 days ago. Brett Martin and Jonathan Hernandez are the other two starters on the 40 man roster — Hernandez is in high-A and pitched just a couple of days ago, and Martin pitched on the 17th. So unless the Rangers wanted to add someone to the 40 man roster -- and then likely drop that pitcher after making the start — Jurado was the only choice.

The hope will be that, facing one of the worst offenses in the American League, Jurado can get ground balls and give them some innings today. Chris Martin is in Chicago and apparently ready to be activated from the disabled list, so if Jurado is activated today, he will most likely be sent down after the game, with Martin being activated to re-join the major league pen.

The question now is, who goes out to make room for Jurado? The team continues to say Cole Hamels isn’t expected to go on the d.l., and given you can now only back date d.l. stints three days, if Hamels were put on the disabled list today, he would not be eligible to be re-activated until next Saturday. Matt Moore’s roster spot would be in danger if they had another viable starting pitcher option to replace him, but until Martin Perez is ready to return, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Brandon Mann would seem likely to be the odd man out, as he was brought up as an extra arm in the pen, and he could be optioned, or put on waivers if they wanted to remove him from the 40 man roster as well.