On Tuesday, the Texas Rangers officially scratched right-handed ace Yu Darvish from his scheduled Opening Day assignment against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 31. Darvish hasn’t pitched in nearly a week due to a stiff neck and he will now leave Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz. and return to Dallas to see back specialist Dr. Drew Dossett. While Darvish’s injury definitely isn’t a good thing, it’s not necessarily the daunting news for the Rangers that it’s being made out to be.
Texas will open its season with Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez in the starting rotation with the other spots still up for grabs between Robbie Ross, Tommy Hanson, Joe Saunders and Colby Lewis. Well, those are the players competing for the jobs at least until Derek Holland and Matt Harrison return from their injuries. Because of their absences and potentially a DL stint for Darvish, all of these young — and some unproven — pitchers (with the exception of Lewis) will get real, meaningful innings in front of the Rangers’ home crowd and then at least a road game or two when the team travels to face the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox in the second and third series of the season.
Scheppers has been lights out during Spring Training, which is why he was the first Rangers pitchers to win a spot in the rotation besides Darvish, despite having never started a major-league game. Because of that lack of experience, Perez will likely get the Opening Day start in place of Darvish after he pitched well during the Rangers’ 163rd regular season game of 2013. Either way, a young pitcher with worlds of potential will get the most hyped start of the season and that’s a great thing experience-wise, regardless of how he performs.
Now, if Darvish has a serious injury that forces him to miss half the season, then it’s definitely not a good thing, no matter how you spin it. However, if he’s on the 15-day DL, which can be backdated six days, then these young pitchers getting extra starts in his absence is definitely not a bad thing. So while Darvish gets his rest and works toward being 100 percent healthy for the upcoming season, the Rangers could use this extra work for the young pitchers to prevent the early, disappointing postseason exits from the previous two seasons.