With the rotation still in question, the Rangers bullpen is a clear strong point. We know that whoever replaces Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, while they rehab from injury, will eventually move into the bullpen when they return. It’s still uncertain at this point as to who will replace them. Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Tommy Hanson, Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis are all trying to grab the last 2 spots in the rotation. That means 3 of them will be going to the bullpen as potential long relieve or middle inning guys.
If Tanner Scheppers doesn’t make the rotation it’s easy to see him being a 7th or 8th inning guy with either Neftali Feliz or Joakim Soria closing games. If these 3 guys are the back of the bullpen, that’s a major advantage for the Rangers ballclub. Soria has 160 career saves while Neftali has 74 in his career. Feliz was injured in 2012 after being used in the rotation, and only saw action in 6 games last season. Those 2 are the clear favorites for the closing role with the edge going to Soria so far this spring.
Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor proved their value last season. They are key pitchers that helped make this one of the best bullpens in baseball in 2013. The question is, can this be the best bullpen in 2014. With the 7th, 8th and 9th innings looking very solid they have the middle inning and matchup pitchers to compete with any other roster in baseball. Injuries are inevitable in sports, ask Holland and Harrison, but this team has the pitching depth to overcome those injuries.
With 3 weeks still left in Surprise it will be interesting to see how the starting rotation looks but no matter who makes it, the bullpen is in great hands.