SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' starting rotation, starting to look bleak just a few days ago, has taken a quick turn for the better lately.Rule 5 pick Mike Hauschild was the latest to brighten the outlook by pitching four scoreless innings in a 10-8 win against the White Sox at
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' starting rotation, starting to look bleak just a few days ago, has taken a quick turn for the better lately.
Rule 5 pick Mike Hauschild was the latest to brighten the outlook by pitching four scoreless innings in a 10-8 win against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch on Sunday. The outing came one day after A.J. Griffin pitched four scoreless against the White Sox.
Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa added to the intrigue when faced the Athletics on Saturday. He allowed three runs on eight hits in four innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Manager Jeff Banister liked the no-walks part.
"He gave up hits, but knuckleballers are going to give up hits," Banister said.
Hauschild allowed two hits, a walk, hit a batter and struck out three. A couple of double plays helped get him out jams, especially in the second inning, when the walk and hit batter put two on with one out. Hauschild escaped by getting Rymer Liriano to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Hauschild, making a mechanical adjustment with the help of pitching coach Doug Brocail and catcher A.J. Jimenez, retired six of the last seven batters he faced.
"It's still early, but they are all making a nice push for themselves," Banister said. "It's about making us look at them and pay attention to what they're doing."
The Rangers are trying to fill two spots since Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are expected to start the season on the disabled list.
The Rangers have three categories to choose from: Experience, Home-Grown and Novelty. There are two pitchers in each category.
Griffin and Dillon Gee, who pitched two scoreless innings in his last outing, are the experienced. In 2013, Griffin was 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 200 innings and 32 starts for the Athletics, and Gee was 12-11 with a 3.62 ERA in 199 innings and 32 starts for the Mets.
That was four years ago. Both have had multiple physical issues over the past three seasons that left them fighting for a job this spring. So far, they have both been healthy and sharp.
Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez are the home-grown talent who have experienced mixed success in the big leagues. Gonzalez needs the right mix of off-speed pitches to go with his sinker, and Martinez needs consummate command of his fastball. That's the mission for both this spring, and their next couple of outings will be crucial.
Gamboa and Hauschild are the novelties. Gamboa started throwing the knuckleball in 2013 and is still a work in progress. The Rangers may need to see more evidence at Triple-A Round Rock.
A decision on Hauschild is more pressing since he was a Rule 5 pick from the Astros and has to be offered back if he doesn't make the team. Rule 5 picks usually have an uphill climb to make a team, but Hauschild is gaining elevation quickly.
The rotation competition is now at full boil.
"Some guys still need to show what they can do and make us want to put them in that spot," Banister said. "Somebody with a full complement of pitches, and is competitive with them, and dialed-in enough to throw strikes." <p< div=""></p<>
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989 and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.