By Lew Patton
The Texas Rangers finalized their starting rotation on Sunday by announcing that Nick Martinez had won the final spot.
Martinez joins opening day starter Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler and Derek Holland. Manager Jeff Banister confirmed his earlier-stated plan to start Holland in the season’s fifth game, the home opener in Arlington. Detwiler, who is scheduled to pitch Monday is on track to start the fourth game of the season at Oakland. Martinez and Lewis, who both pitched on Thursday, will pitches games 2-3 in Oakland in some order, though that has yet to be announced.
“What we saw from Nick this spring is much the same that we had talked about,” Banister said. “We saw pitchability. We saw fastball command and command of his secondary stuff. And we saw good athleticism.”
Martinez, who has allowed one run in 10.2 innings this spring, pitched six shutout innings against Colorado on Thursday. He beat out a group that included Nick Tepesch, Lisalverto Bonilla, Anthony Ranaudo and Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez. Gonzalez has already been assigned to the minor league camp. Tepesch and Bonilla are scheduled to pitch Sunday and Monday to try and win a spot as the long reliever. The loser will likely go to Triple-A Round Rock to join that rotation to provide depth for the major league rotation.
The decision also adds uncertainty to Tepesch’s long-term role with the Rangers. He came to camp with more major league starts (39) than any of the other contenders, but he will end up behind Martinez with Gonzalez and top prospect Jake Thompson is quickly closing in on him.
Tepesch entered Sunday with an 8.56 ERA for 13.2 innings this spring, during which hitters have batted .339. The Texas Rangers would like him to throw more sinking fastballs because everything he throws currently seems to stay on the same plane and without great speed variance.