With Yu Darvish sidelined by a neck injury, right-hander Tanner Scheppers will start on opening day for the Rangers, the team announced. Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Joe Saunders and Nick Martinez will round out the rotation.
Scheppers, 27, was the team's primary setup man last season. He won a rotation spot with a strong spring -- 3.07 ERA and 14/4 K/BB in 14 2/3 -- and opening day will be his first career start. How rare is that? This rare:
According to the Elias, Tanner Scheppers would be just the second pitcher since 1945 to make his first ML start in a team's season opener.— Anthony Andro (@aandro) March 26, 2014
Fernando Valenzuela only other pitcher to make his first big-league start in his team's season opener.— Anthony Andro (@aandro) March 26, 2014
In 76 2/3 relief innings last season, Scheppers had a 1.88 ERA (220 ERA+) with 6.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He will be the team's sixth different opening day starter in the last six years, joining Matt Harrison (2013), Colby Lewis (2012), C.J. Wilson (2011), Scott Feldman (2010) and Kevin Millwood (2009).
The Rangers start their season on Monday against the Phillies.