Good Scheppers.

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It wasn’t Colby
Lewis’s best start of the season, but close to it. 


But his eight-pitch
at-bat in the sixth inning, facing off against Milwaukee righthander Yovani Gallardo,
was one of the great Rangers’ at-bats of the season. 


With Texas ahead,
2-1, Vladimir Guerrero singled and Josh Hamilton doubled to lead off the inning.  Justin Smoak then struck out looking and Max
Ramirez went down swinging, and Gallardo probably felt like he’d all but

with punchless number
eight hitter Andres Blanco and Lewis slated to hit.  Brewers manager Ken Macha put Blanco on
first, asking Gallardo to get Lewis out to end the inning. 


Gallardo – top 10 in
the National League in strikeouts (and ERA) – snapped off a curve that broke
more than a foot to start the at-bat, and Lewis swung through it.  Lewis then looked at a 94-mph fastball that missed
a bit outside.  Then he fouled off
another sharp curve.  And fouled off
another 94-mph heater.  And fouled off
another curve.  And watched a curve that
Gallardo buried in the dirt.  And fouled
yet another 94-mph fastball.


And Lewis then did
bad things to a curve that broke 12 inches but stayed inside, raking it just inside
the bag at third base and down the line for a two-run single to give himself
and his teammates a 4-1 lead.


Gallardo then struck
Elvis Andrus out, just as he’d done with Smoak and Ramirez earlier in the


C.J. Wilson faces
Josh Johnson tomorrow night, and has immediately fallen far behind Lewis in the
battle for starting pitcher bragging rights at the plate.


Alexi Ogando didn’t
pitch yesterday (why Frankie Francisco was called on to pitch the ninth inning
of a 7-2 contest, in a day game after a night game in which he’d thrown 26
pitches, I’m not sure).  But Tanner
Scheppers did.


Ryan Aber of the Daily Oklahoman and Bob Hersom of shed some light on the Rangers’ plan with Scheppers, who made
his first minor league start yesterday and held Albuquerque scoreless on two
hits (by ex-big leaguers Michael Restovich and Nick Green) and no walks,
fanning a pair of Isotopes (ex-big leaguers Jay Gibbons and Restovich).  Meanwhile, Oklahoma City spanked Vicente
Padilla for six runs (four earned) in his 5.2 rehab innings.


Scheppers threw 55
pitches, 37 for strikes.  Of his 40
fastballs, a number touched 99 mph, and he mixed in a good curve and
inconsistent change.  In blanking the
Isotopes, he lowered his RedHawks ERA to 1.57 and his opponents’ batting average
to .188.  In 23 AAA innings, he’s walked
10 and punched out 29.  The 23-year-old
righty has now faced 28 straight hitters without a base on balls.


RedHawks pitching coach
Terry Clark told Aber and Hersom that the organization’s plan for Scheppers is
to make three more starts at about four innings apiece (which would bring him
to 46 innings between AA and AAA for the year). 
He’ll then be shut down for a week (just as he was early this month),
and make another four starts at five innings each, which would raise his total
to 66 innings as of the last week or so of July. 


At that point –
assuming Scheppers hasn’t first been summoned to the big league bullpen – Texas
will be right up against the trade deadline, having blueprinted about 35 or 40 more
2010 innings for Scheppers.  A majority,
if not all, of those innings will probably come in the Texas bullpen.  The plan is for Scheppers to help the Rangers
in relief this year, and in a best case, in their rotation next year, when the
organization believes he’ll be ready to log 150-200 innings.  The timing of all this is interesting, given
that Texas might be weighing opportunities to trade for another power arm to
stick in the bullpen for the stretch run – but they might have the right guy in
AAA right now.


The big league focus
is on this week’s series in Florida and Houston, as it should be, but when you get
looks at Ogando and Scheppers this summer, with Tommy Hunter and Neftali Feliz
and Derek Holland ahead of them and Martin Perez and Blake Beavan and Pedro
Strop behind them, it’s going to be hard not to think about where this pitching
staff is headed over the next couple years.





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(c) Jamey Newberg



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