Is Tanner Scheppers back? It might be too soon to say, but he took two very big steps on his way to returning to early-season form with his stint in Seattle.
Only days before the Rangers arrived in Seattle, Scheppers had two of the worst outings of his career. He gave up two runs on three hits with a couple of wild pitches and hit batters against the Astros and then a run on three hits in a loss to the White Sox. It capped a very difficult stretch for Scheppers. The young reliever posted a 4.76 ERA in his last 17 innings before the trip to Seattle. Opponents were hitting .333 against him. Included in that span was his black eye on the streets of Cleveland. It just wasn't a 6-week stretch to remember for Scheppers
Before June 30, when the struggles began, Scheppers was an All-Star caliber reliever. He posted a 1.11 ERA in his first 40 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .168 against him. Did he experience some fatigue? Very possible.
But the last two games in Seattle has seen the return of the Scheppers that we all saw early in the season. He needed just seven pitches to get three outs in the first game of the Rangers' three-game sweep of the Mariners. That was with a 5-run lead. But the next night, in a tie game, Scheppers came in and got two strikeouts and pitched out of a jam. He didn't allow a hit in either appearance and his command was solid. His fastball hit 97 mph more than a handful of times those two nights.
It was a good sign that Scheppers is finding it again. And that would be huge for this team. They need Scheppers as they shut down guy late in close games down the stretch and into the postseason.