MLB Preview 2011: 10 Relievers Poised to Make the Jump to the Starting Rotation
As teams monitor their rosters this spring, there are a number of players who are taking the field with a certain level of uncertainty.
Relief pitchers are an integral part of any team's successes. They enter games in tight spots and are counted on to shut out the competition when it counts.
If that's not enough pressure, a number of pitchers in the bullpens are playing with the possibility of being pulled into a new role—starting pitcher.
As Spring Training plays out, there are a number of relief pitchers out there who may be starting pitchers who are simply biding their time before making their eventual appearance in their team's rotation.
Joakim Soria has spent all of his Major League career in the Kansas City Royals bullpen. In 238 appearances he has compiled an 8-10 record with a 2.01 ERA and 281 strikeouts.
It's been rumored that the Yankees have inquired about the availability of Soria, likely to be an eventual successor to Mariano Rivera.
Soria did spend time as a starting pitcher before entering the Royals' organization and if it came down to it, there's no reason he couldn't eventually become a starting pitcher again.
Last year, Aroldis Chapman stepped into the spotlight armed with a 100+ mph fastball and immense talent.
He has the makings of a dominant reliever in this league, but at the same time his value may be better utilized as a starting pitcher.
Chapman made 13 starts in AAA Louisville in 2010, where he went 5-5 and struck out 76 batters in 65 innings.
While Chapman appears to be starting the season in the bullpen, the team also spent time training him as a starter during the offseason, furthering speculation that he may ultimately end up in the rotation.
Even though he hasn't made any career starts in the Majors, it appears that the Cardinals may be looking towards Kyle McClellan to fill the final void in their rotation.
In three seasons with the Cards, McClellan has been an effective member of the bullpen, appearing in over 60 games in each of his seasons with the team.
The team's current depth chart has McClellan slated to take the fifth and final spot in the rotation, though a few more weeks of Spring Training could change that.
There has been a good amount of speculation surrounding Neftali Feliz's status in the Texas Rangers bullpen lately.
The back and forth rhetoric between the organization and Feliz concerning his role on the team has been a very prevalent part of media coverage in spring training.
As it stands right now, it looks like Feliz will remain in the team's bullpen after all, despite indications that had pointed to the closer moving to the starting rotation.
With the potential lack of depth in the Rangers' starting rotation, Feliz may eventually find himself making starts for his team—even if it isn't this spring.
In his four seasons with the New York Yankees, Joba Chamberlain has put together a 12-7 record as a starter with a 4.18 ERA.
He looked to have the makings of a successful starter in 2008, but lost favor with the Yankees during a less than stellar 2009 campaign that saw the team move him to the bullpen.
He didn't make any starts in 2010, but given the instability in the back end of the team's rotation, there's a possibility that he may once again be called into duty as a starter in 2011.
After being fast tracked to the Majors, Chris Sale made an immediate impact with the Chicago White Sox in 2010.
In 21 appearances, Sale posted a 1.81 ERA and struck out 32 batters in 23 innings pitched.
His immediate dominance could have put him in a position to remain a mainstay in the team's bullpen, rumors have it that Sale would be making the move to the starting rotation.
As spring training has played out the team has indicated that Sale will start the season in the bullpen, but with the likelihood of the team making an eventual move towards youth in the rotation, Sale could be making starts at in the near future.
Tyson Ross made a less-than-spectacular impression on the Oakland Athletics in 2010. The righty appeared in 26 games in 2010 (two starts) and managed only a 1-4 record and 5.49 ERA.
Still, the organization seemed impressed enough with his mechanics to consider bringing him into the team's starting rotation in 2011.
Current depth charts have Ross on the outside looking in with regards to the rotation, but Ross has been turning heads this spring and may eventually end up making starts for the A's.
Despite making only one career start in the Major Leagues, the Detroit Tigers appear ready to give Phil Coke a shot at becoming a full time starter in their rotation.
Coke did start 77 games in the Minor Leagues, but was moved to the bullpen when he joined the New York Yankees in 2008.
He is currently slated as the Tigers' fourth starter, just ahead of newly acquired Brad Penny.
Andrew Cashner made 53 relief appearances in 2010 for the Chicago Cubs, posting a 4.80 ERA in 54.1 innings pitched.
While he didn't make any starts for the Cubs in his rookie season, there are rumblings that the team may be considering moving him to the starting rotation.
Despite a shaky spring, Carlos Silva does appear to have a hold on the fifth and final spot in the rotation. But if something goes awry, it wouldn't be a surprise if Cashner made starts in his place.
The Boston Red Sox appear (at least on paper) to have a firm grasp of their starting rotation for the 2011 season. But as is too often the case, rotations seem to be constantly shifting.
If the back end of the Red Sox rotation falters this spring, expect the team look towards reliever Daniel Bard to fill in.
Bard has made 122 appearances (all in relief) in his career with the Red Sox and has a career 3-4 record with a 2.61 ERA.
Bard did make 22 Minor League starts in 2007 before being moved to the bullpen by the organization. If needed he'd be a logical choice to move to the rotation, a move that he has stated he'd be open to.
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