Relief.

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Mavs out of the way

Rangers now the
sole focus

Time to turn it
on.

 

Scott Feldman deserved better yesterday, and while Darren O’Day
and Dustin Nippert aren’t in danger of losing their jobs, the bullpen has been
a problem, accounting for seven of the club’s 12 losses (last year’s relief corps
lost 19 games all year) and a .461 slug. 
It’s easy to point quickly to the absence of C.J. Wilson, but that’s
lazy, as Darren Oliver has been effective in Wilson’s vacated role.  The problems are elsewhere.

 

Neftali Feliz and Frankie Francisco have contributed most
heavily to the troublesome bullpen numbers, and they’re not going anywhere
either, but it’s fair to assume that, in the natural course of things,
reinforcements will be needed in various relief roles over the remaining 140
games, and there are several young relievers on the farm – including three who weren’t
stateside in the system last year – pushing for whiteboard discussions at 1000
Ballpark Way.

 

There were fewer than 6,000 paid in Frisco last night for the
RoughRiders’ 1-0, 11-inning win over San Antonio (fans of both clubs probably
had another Thursday evening sports appointment), but what happened in the top
halves of the eighth and ninth was probably worth noting. 

 

Alexi Ogando, after three “starts” (designed to keep the relief
prospect’s innings carefully managed), was shifted to the bullpen (perhaps to begin
getting him used to the situations he’ll be asked to handle, and maybe to get him
more regular work than the rotation assignment allowed).  And Tanner Scheppers worked on two days’ rest
for the first time and pitched one inning, having had his first five Frisco
appearances spaced out further and logging two frames at a time.  Again, this could be an effort to step up the
grooming process.

 

Their work last night, the first game they pitched in
together:

 

Ogando’s seventh: perfect inning, groundout-flyout-groundout.  Seven pitches, four strikes.  Reportedly worked 95-96, mixing in his advanced
slider.

 

Scheppers’s eighth: perfect inning, strikeout looking-groundout-flyout.  Thirteen pitches, nine strikes.  Reports of 96-98 and dirtiness in his own power
curve and change.

 

Ogando this season (holding opponents to 2 for 34, fanning
14 of 34 batters faced, .059/.111/.088):

 

DATE

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

PITCHES

STRIKES

Apr
10

2.2

0

0

0

1

3

0

39

25

Apr
19

3.0

1

1

1

0

3

0

44

34

Apr
25

4.0

1

0

0

1

8

0

59

43

Apr
29

1.0

0

0

0

0

0

0

7

4

TOTALS

10.2

2

1

1

2

14

0

149

106

 

Scheppers (holding opponents to 3 for 38, punching out half
of his batters faced, .079/.079/.158):

 

DATE

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

PITCHES

STRIKES

Apr
9

2.0

1

0

0

0

3

0

32

22

Apr
13

2.0

1

1

1

0

3

1

34

22

Apr
17

2.0

0

0

0

0

3

0

26

18

Apr
22

2.0

1

0

0

0

4

0

26

18

Apr
26

2.0

2

0

0

0

5

0

27

19

Apr
29

1.0

0

0

0

0

1

0

13

9

TOTALS

11.0

3

1

1

0

19

1

158

108

 

Omar Beltre, working out of the Oklahoma City bullpen, is
probably going to get some work tonight in relief of lefthander Michael
Kirkman, hoping to finish off an impressive April (to date: 8.2 innings, two
runs [2.08 ERA] on six hits [all singles] and five walks [.194/.297/.194], 12
strikeouts, eye-opening ratio of 10 groundouts to three flyouts).  He’s been pitching on two or three days’ rest
each time out.

 

Will Scheppers, Ogando, and Beltre be up this year?  For various reasons (long-term shoulder risk for
the former, age for the latter two), it might make sense to err on the side of
pushing them a bit.  It’s too soon, but given
the erratic start that the big club has had in the bullpen this month, it’s
hard not to keep one eye on what’s happening with those three out of the gate.

 

The other benefit, of course, is that very few pitchers jump
into big league games with the kind of success and reliability that Feliz provided
last summer.  Scheppers, Ogando, and
Beltre are going to be counted on to help in 2011.  It would make sense to get them used to the
major leagues in 2010, and get the acclimation period out of the way.

 

The way those three are dealing, the acclimation period may
belong to opposing hitters.

 

 

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(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

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