Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Tepesch pitched effectively as a No. 5 for the Rangers early in 2013.
The top four spots in the Rangers' rotation are set.
The fifth spot is not, and barring improbable signing of Masahiro Tanaka, it appears that Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis are the main competitors to round out the rotation.
Right now—although this could very well change based on Lewis' performance in spring training—I have to give the slight edge to Tepesch.
If Lewis were a little healthier, he'd be a no-brainer here. But he hasn't pitched since the middle of the 2012 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery. It's one thing for a pitcher to have shoulder problems. It's quite another to have hip problems on top of that. Plus, Lewis is 34 years old.
In 17 starts in 2013, Tepesch threw 93 innings, went 4-6 and finished with a 4.84 ERA. He showed impressive control, walking only 27 batters in those 93 innings and striking out 76—nearly a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Tepesch's main problem was his effectiveness during the second and third time though the opposing lineup. His opponents' batting average was .158 the first time through the order but jumped to .270 the second time through and to .451 the third time through.
Keep in mind before he started for Texas, Tepesch hadn't pitched at a level higher than Double-A. That considered, he did a decent job.
He has solid, but not incredible stuff. His best pitch is a hard sinker that he can locate well on any part of the plate. He has a good slurve-like pitch that he can also get over for strikes. But the problem with any sinkerballer is a tendency to sometimes over extend the release and "yank" the sinker back over the middle of the plate.
Remember what is needed out of a fifth starter. It doesn't need to be someone who is lights out or even a guy who wins 10 games. It just needs to be someone who can take a turn every five days, eat innings and keep his team in the game.
With 93 innings under his belt and a powerful offense behind him, Tepesch could handle around 130 to 140 innings as a No. 5.
Of course though, if Lewis impresses in the spring he should get the nod. It wouldn't hurt Tepesch at all to start the year in Triple-A.
All things considered last season, Tepesch filled in decently and ate innings as best he could. He could have been better, but he could have been much worse as well.
With a healthy Lewis and Harrison, this rotation can win a World Series.
Now to the bullpen.